Bringing the Roper River to Canberra

30 Nov 2023

We’re writing to you from the halls of Parliament in Canberra, where we’ve just delivered a powerful message to politicians from all sides.

Our message is clear: water is life.

If we don’t protect our water – our river – our country, we risk losing the very thing that sustains our communities and our culture.

It was a long journey to get here. Northeast Arnhem Land, Katherine, Darwin, and then all the way down to Canberra.

Our 13-metre-long map of the mighty Roper River, showing all the cultural sites and songlines of our Country, took 18 months for us to make. Our songlines follow the water, connecting us all. If our water is taken, our culture and people are at risk.

And we talked to those people who need to listen. We met with Ministers, Senators and MPs from all sides of politics in this place.

We told them that the Roper River – our lifeblood – is under threat from cotton, fracking and other industries. These thirsty industries all risk taking too much water and damaging the river. We used the map to show them our Country, and everything it sustains.

You can read more about our time in Canberra on ABC News, or watch this video of our speeches in Parliament.

Now, we’re starting the long journey back home. We’re tired, and we’re looking forward to getting back to our Country, our homes, and our families.

But the fight to protect the Roper is not over.

The future of our river, our people and our culture all rely on urgent action. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the Murray-Darling. It’s time to forge a new path that respects and includes the knowledge and rights of First Nations people.

Thank you for your support – for the letters you sent to the people here in Parliament, and for showing us that thousands of Australians are behind us.

We know that you’ll be there with us at the next stage. We are going to need to keep telling those in Canberra that they need to act. Together, we can and will protect the Roper.

Thank you

Linda Williams, Naomi Wilfred, Daphne Daniels, Rosina Farrell, Clive Nunggarrgalu, Roland Nundhirribala

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