For decades Phil "Leslie" Duncan has advocated for greater respect and understanding of Aboriginal connections to water.
A proud Gomeroi man, and member of the Natural Resources Access Regulator's Independent board, Mr Duncan's work was recognised at a Griffith University graduation ceremony last week, where he was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of the University.
The award recognises Mr Duncan's sustained and significant contributions to water policy and management, and advocacy to improve the lives of indigenous people in this space.
With more than 30 years' experience in water management, Mr Duncan has provided strategic advice and leadership to key Indigenous representative organisations, universities, and state and federal government agencies. He also serves as the chair of the Basin Community Committee of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
Greater uptake of indigenous knowledge - our cultural science - can benefit Australian society and Aboriginal people need to be involved in decision making that effects the natural environment.- Phil Duncan
Mr Duncan said he was proud to accept the award and would continue to strive to increase the Aboriginal voices present in environmental management and conservation.
"Accepting this honorary doctorate is an extremely proud moment for me and my family and the people who I work with to bring about change," Mr Duncan said.
"In the Aboriginal world view people and country, including lands, waterways, wetlands and seas are independent entities that are intrinsically linked. We share a symbiotic relationship with our land and waters.
"Greater uptake of indigenous knowledge, our cultural science, can benefit Australian society and Aboriginal people need to be involved in decision making that effects the natural environment.
"We need to be able to care for our country and be involved in repairing our country."
Mr Duncan has served on NRAR's board since 2020, which is an independent board responsible for strategic decision-making, that helps to shape and change attitudes to water law compliance in NSW.
The board consists of four independent part-time members including a chair. The members of the board must have experience and expertise in law, natural resources management, compliance and regulation, or other relevant areas.
The board is appointed by the government on advice from NRAR staff. Once appointed, they are not subject to any ministerial direction either directly, or indirectly through DPE. The minister has no input or influence into operational activities of NRAR.
Board members are appointed for a three-year term but are eligible to be reappointed. They meet at least monthly, and minutes of these meetings are publicly available on NRAR's website.
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