‘Upstreamers & downstreamers’: Promoting investment in First Peoples through the creation of exclusive rights

Join Dr Virginia Marshall, the ANU inaugural Indigenous Post-Doctoral Fellow for the ANU Reconciliation Week Lecture, 'Upstreamers & downstreamers:  Promoting investment in First Peoples through the creation of exclusive rights'.

Dr Virginia Marshall will discuss her journey of researching her doctorate in law, which commenced during the drought of the Millennium and where Aboriginal water needs were barely mentioned. In contrast, the interests of stakeholder groups, both upstream and downstream, captured the media's attention. Australian society failed to recognise that First Peoples water rights and interests which span thousands of generations of Aboriginal laws, habitation, scientific observations, adaption and resilience. In a 'web' of relationships, where water is inseparable from land, and underpinned through traditional and revitalised Aboriginal knowledge systems, the question is: Are Australia's frameworks, laws and policies robust enough to ensure Aboriginal communities can exercise cultural and economic control in light of the principles of self-determination?

Virginia Marshall is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow with the Australian National University's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society. She is a practising lawyer and duty solicitor, a former associate & researcher with the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney and professional member of the NSW Law Society and Women Lawyers Association of NSW. Former Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Law Reform Commission and inquiry into 'Family Violence & Commonwealth Laws: Improving Legal Frameworks' (ALRC 117), Executive Officer of the NSW Government's 'Aboriginal Water Trust' and criminal defence lawyer with NSW Legal Aid.

Virginia is the winner of the WEH Stanner Award for the best thesis by an Indigenous author, titled, 'A web of Aboriginal water rights: Examining the competing Aboriginal claim for water property rights and interests in Australia'. She is in demand as a Keynote Speaker on Indigenous water law and governance, Indigenous traditional knowledge systems and the intersectionality of western intellectual property regimes and the Indigenous commercialisation of native foods and medicines.

A lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and Magistrate for the NSW Law Society's 'Mock Trial Competition'.

Virginia is Partner Investigator (PI) with an ARC Linkage Grant, 'Garuwanga: Forming a Competent Authority to Protect Indigenous Knowledge' ($244,000) to "govern and administer a legal framework in order to ensure consent of Indigenous communities is obtained for access to Aboriginal traditional knowledge and to establish a fair and equitable benefit-sharing mechanism for use of that knowledge".

At the conclusion of the lecture, the Vice-Chancellor will launch the new Core Cultural Learning; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia Foundation Course (Core Cultural Learning). This interactive course is designed to enhance cultural capability across ANU and build greater awareness of the vast history and cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This lecture will be followed by light refreshments in the Lotus Hall.