21 September 2021
News – meet the team

Meet the team

Craig Watson is the Cultural Heritage Engagement Coordinator for the north-west and central areas at Mallee Catchment Management Authority.

Q. How did you end up working with VMFRP?

I was born and raised in north-west Victoria. I studied engineering at university and worked for 20 years in the mines and various engineering jobs in Mildura.

After that I wanted a change. I wanted to get back to my roots and start caring for Country. I’m Latji Latj. When I was growing up, we were raised with the nature of the bush – we learned how to survive out there. As an adult, I could see the landscape dying and I wanted to put my education to better use.

I went back to Uni to study conservation and land management. In 2020, I started working at Mallee CMA as the Cultural Heritage Engagement Coordinator.

Q. Why did you chose to work in the environmental water space?

I like the engagement aspect – water brings everyone together. Water is important to life and very spiritual for Aboriginal people. Without the water, we’ve got nothing. I want to get water back on Country and have a unified agreement to do it.

Q. What do you love about your job?

I love being able to put a drive back into the community to achieve this goal. I love it when I am able to bring people together – to get families and mobs to separate business from what we’re trying to achieve here.

I also get to give our communities a voice in government – it’s important for our voices and aspirations to be at the table.

Q. Why is environmental water important?

It’s important spiritually, it’s important for life, it’s important for bringing back totems and wildlife. It’s a sense of mental freshness. It’s important for everyone.

Abandoned emu eggs at Belsar-Yungera. The male stays behind to incubate the eggs while the female moves on, sometimes mating with a different male in the same season (Photo: Craig Watson)

Q. What do you want to see in the environmental water space in the future?

I want to see all nine projects go ahead. I want to see us come together to get our desired outcomes while protecting cultural heritage and all other aspects.

It will be a big milestone and a big achievement for all of our communities. We’re restoring these floodplains for everyone – for recreation, for health, for spiritual and cultural connections across all communities. It’s for our kids and our kids’ kids. I hope they get to see how these sites have flourished as a result of these works.

I’d also like to see more involvement of Traditional Owners in managing environmental water and floodplain spaces.

Q. Why is Country so important to Traditional Owners?

Country for us is a sense of purpose, a sense of caring, it’s a feeling of a place, a feeling of being part of a place that needs to be protected and looked after.

Our Elders are still here and we’ve got to look after the Country that they had before. And that’s what the VMFRP will hopefully do – bring back the landscape to the way it was for our Elders.

In the next 20 years, we hope to see the landscape flourish and bring it back to what was there before us. We get to live that again with the Elders and pass this cultural connection to the land onto our children.

The VMFRP is trying to bring everybody onto the same playing field no matter what your background. Water is for everyone.