Community to share thoughts on meaning of water

Mildura will be the first region in the state to be part of research project that will explore all aspects of people’s relationship with water.

La Trobe University is conducting a survey, open to the public, to hear the views of residents.   Findings from the Mildura project will inform a large comparative study exploring ideas from other Victorian regional cities.

Dr Heather Downey says community voices are often lost when it comes to discussions surrounding water.

“Media reports on water are often dominated by agricultural issues, but we know the meaning of water for the wider community can be very different.  For example, do they swim, fish, canoe, sit and look at the river?  Or do people enjoy having a BBQ, listening to music and walking by the river?  Does the river enable social relationships?  And similarly water in other forms, like swimming pools – is going to the pool a social occasion that’s very important to them?

“I also expect people to talk about the way they use water in their homes.  What water saving devices they use such, as rain tanks.  Also in their gardens, do they grow more drought tolerant plants, is having a green lawn important to them?  Is the backyard where kids play under the sprinkler important for them?  These are all aspects we’d like to explore as part of this research project.  I’m sure these activities are all things people are currently missing, due to the pandemic we are experiencing.”

Dr Heather Downey, is a Social Worker based at La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga campus. Recently her research has explored how the concept of entitlement to water was managed in the media and policy surrounding allegations of water stealing in the northern Murray Darling Basin.  Other members of the research team include Professor Katie Holmes, Director of La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland, Public Health researcher Dr Evelien Spelten, as well as Mildura based Social Work academic Dr Sean MacDermott.

“The project came about after a small community forum in 2018 identified that water has many different meanings for the diverse Mildura community, including water for domestic use, recreation and cultural activities, industry and agricultural use and for environmental purposes. We want to keep this momentum going and give voice to community residents by exploring the multidimensional relationships they have with water,” says Dr Downey.

To undertake the survey, please visit this link;

Image credit; David Sickerdick and Mildura Regional Development


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