The Emergence of Water Markets and Implications for Rural Social Work

Robyn Mason, John McDonald, Alison Ollerenshaw

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The aim of this paper is to consider the implications for rural social work practice of the widespread and severe drought coupled with the emergence of water markets in Australia. The National Water Initiative was signed at the June 2004 Council of Australian Governments meeting with the aim of producing a nationally-compatible, market, regulatory and planning-based system of managing water resources to optimise economic, social and environmental outcomes. The National Water Commission and the National Competition Council have since assessed progress on the implementation of the initiative: none of their reports gives adequate consideration to the impact of water reform on rural communities. In this paper, we draw upon previous research and written submissions made to the Commission and the Council to examine the social and political consequences of the drought and the emergence of water markets. We discuss the implications for rural practice, and conclude by proposing seven recommendations to assert the role of rural social workers as change agents. This role could encompass community education and advocacy, piloting schemes such as community water banks, reinstating community development in social work curriculum, and facilitating collaborative rural partnerships
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-17
Number of pages12
JournalRural Social Work and Community Practice
Issue numberDec 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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