“The river has a voice! Always had a vocabulary and has recently given us all a lecture, I sometimes wonder what it will take? We need to listen – binung!”

Uncle AJ, Kyogle

The lands and waterways of the Baluun (Richmond) Catchment and beyond, are the unceded territories of the peoples of the Bundjalung and Githabul Nations. We pay our respects to Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors, Caring for Country since time began, and to all communities of the Bundjalung and Githabul Nations, who continue to speak and care for their Country and Water.

The startup of the Richmond Riverkeeper Association has been funded by Ozfish Unlimited, and a community grant from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation. Partnership research projects are underway supported by Vice Chancellor Flood Recovery Grants from Southern Cross University. The development of our Vision and Business Strategy has been supported by a grant from the NSW Government.

Partnership, co-design and collaboration with community and other river stakeholders is key to all that we do. We cannot do this work alone!

The Richmond Riverkeeper is proud to collaborate with local, regional, national and international organisations.

The Richmond RIverkeeper acknowledges the support of the following organisations to our vision for the rivers, sub-catchments and tributaries of the Richmond River catchment to be healthy, ecologically sustainable, respected by policy and decision-makers, managed actively, and valued by the community.

background
background
The Richmond River catchment, unceded lands of the Bundjalung and Githabal peoples, is the sixth-largest catchment in New South Wales covering an area of nearly 7,000 km2. The Richmond Catchment is known to be one of the most ecologically stressed catchments in NSW with extremely poor ecosystem health (Ryder et al., 2015). Considered a poorly flushed system, the Richmond River experiences water quality issues because of its highly modified, and large floodplain (ABER, 2007).
The Richmond Riverkeeper Association has emerged from the desperate need for new governance structures to address the state of the catchment and the 2022 floods to give the rivers of the Richmond River catchment a community voice.
AIMS
OBJECTIVES
PRINCIPLES

The aims, objectives and principles for the Richmond Riverkeeper are defined in the Association’s Constitution. These provide the foundation for the Program Logic. The core ethos of the organisation is one of collaboration – working with Traditional Owners, community members, scientists, stakeholders, government, farmers and other industries to drive positive and long term change. Collaboration is a central element of all activities (workstreams) of the organisation.

To respect, protect and restore the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub-catchments and tributaries, from source to mouth, for current and future generations enhancing the natural integrity of the waterways and the ecological systems that make them healthy.

To respect, and celebrate the unique relationship of Indigenous peoples to their waterways and catchments.

To encourage lifestyles that ensure the ongoing health of the waterways and their catchments.

To be an effective, independent public advocate for the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To provide a unified voice, representative of the community, in relation to whole-of-river issues.

To identify, create and implement initiatives that will protect and restore the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To build and foster relationships with all stakeholders.

To ensure integrated management founded upon stewardship.

To build and make publicly accessible knowledge relating to the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To celebrate the ecological and social value of the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To lead with ‘on ground’ actions that demonstrate the achievement of our goals.

To establish a realistic funding base that can support projected activities.

First People’s First: Underpinning our work is the principle of First People’s First. In practice this means putting Bundjalung and Githabul Nation’s cultural authority and Knowledge at the heart of what we do, and a commitment to forging stronger and enduring partnerships with communities.

We will commit to take direction from Elders and Custodians in the implementation of our strategic planning; prioritise time and resources to ensure meaningful consultation, follow protocols to develop and practice strong cultural awareness and respect and acknowledge the custodial ethic of First Nations peoples for the Rivers.

Centring the river: The rivers and waterways of the catchment are central to our purpose and aims. In designing and implementing and supporting actions and approaches, we will be led by what will benefit the rivers.

Collaboration: Richmond Riverkeeper creates value through information and knowledge sharing built on respect and trust, contributing to and sharing projects aligned with our principles and values to improve the health of the river.

The aims, objectives and principles for the Richmond Riverkeeper are defined in the Association’s Constitution. These provide the foundation for the Program Logic. The core ethos of the organisation is one of collaboration – working with Traditional Owners, community members, scientists, stakeholders, government, farmers, industry to drive positive and long term change. Collaboration is a central element of all activities (workstreams) of the organisation.

To respect, protect and restore the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub-catchments and tributaries, from source to mouth, for current and future generations enhancing the natural integrity of the waterways and the ecological systems that make them healthy.

To respect, and celebrate the unique relationship of Indigenous peoples to their waterways and catchments.

To encourage lifestyles that ensure the ongoing health of the waterways and their catchments.

To be an effective, independent public advocate for the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To provide a unified voice, representative of the community, in relation to whole-of-river issues.

To identify, create and implement initiatives that will protect and restore the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To build and foster relationships with all stakeholders.

To ensure integrated management founded upon stewardship.

To build and make publicly accessible knowledge relating to the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To celebrate the ecological and social value of the rivers of the Richmond catchment, their sub catchments and tributaries.

To lead with ‘on ground’ actions that demonstrate the achievement of our goals.

To establish a realistic funding base that can support projected activities.

First People’s First: Underpinning our work is the principle of First People’s First. In practice this means putting Bundjalung and Githabul Nation’s cultural authority and Knowledge at the heart of what we do, and a commitment to forging stronger and enduring partnerships with communities.

We will commit to take direction from Elders and Custodians in the implementation of our strategic planning; prioritise time and resources to ensure meaningful consultation, follow protocols to develop and practice strong cultural awareness and respect and acknowledge the custodial ethic of First Nations peoples for the Rivers.

Centring the river: The rivers and waterways of the catchment are central to our purpose and aims. In designing and implementing and supporting actions and approaches, we will be led by what will benefit the rivers.

Collaboration: Richmond Riverkeeper creates value through information and knowledge sharing built on respect and trust, contributing to and sharing projects aligned with our principles and values to improve the health of the river.

MISSION
The Richmond River catchment and its tributaries are healthy, ecologically sustainable, respected by policy and decision-makers, actively managed, and valued by the community.
VISION
The rivers of the Richmond catchment are drinkable, fishable and swimmable again.
PURPOSE
A trusted advisor and advocate that draws on collective knowledge and brings together diverse perspectives, skills and projects across the Richmond to speak for the river.
Goals

STRATEGIC OUTCOMES

(Long-term 5-10 years)

OUTCOME 1

Influence and integrity

The tributaries of the Richmond catchment are protected and considered integral aspects of future planning, policy, and decision-making for the region.

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

(3-5 years)

Exisiting statutory river and ecosystem protection measures are actively implemented and enforced, and enhanced to provide enhanced protection.
A whole-of-catchment, coordinated water quality and river health monitoring program is actively supported and influences regional decision-making.
Key planning and decision-making forums that have capacity to improve river health have representation from the Richmond Riverkeeper.
Voices of the rivers are amplified through communication, cultural connections on Country, story-telling, and the arts.
Richmond Riverkeeper Association maintains strong governance and commitment to continual improvement.

OUTCOME 2

APPLIED knowledge and capacity building

Leveraging a strong evidence-based, motivating and supporting positive changes in existing practices (e.g. agricultural, industry or land use planning).

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

(3-5 years)

A consolidated and synthesised knowledge base and baseline across the ecological, social, cultural and economic dimensions of river health.
Knowledge, skills and advice about sustainable land use practices and support opportunities (e.g. funding sources) are coordinated and easily accessible to landholders.
Tools, resources and knowledge to support land use planners and natural resource managers are readily accessible.
Members and collaborators have the knowledge and resources needed to seek and secure funding and support.

OUTCOME 3

Gateway to networks

RRK is the trusted gateway to a vast network of collaborators across Aboriginal natural and cultural heritage, policy and strategy, local knowledge, scientific research, funding sources, industry and agricultural sectors.

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

(3-5 years)

Traditional Owners are empowered through reciprocal engagement to participate as active partners in caring for the rivers and waterways of the catchment.
Collaborators and partners are provided with an easy entry point to gain holistic perspectives and transdisciplinary knowledge about the catchment.
Forums for regular contact between Traditional Owners, state and local government, and key stakeholders involved in river health (or practices impacting on river health) are established and/or maintained.

OUTCOME 4

Coordinated action

The protection and enhancement of ecological, social and cultural values in the catchment is enabled through improved water quality and the effective coordination of resources and funding, programs and on ground projects.

INTERMEDIATE OUTCOMES

(3-5 years)

A First Nations Council for the rivers of the Richmond is established and actively informing Caring for Country, culture and community initiatives.
Funding to improve on-ground river health (e.g. enhanced water quality, protection of riparian zones) is obtained and distributed to Richmond Riverkeeper partners and collaborators for their implementation.
Existing data and status updates about projects and programs across the catchment are collected, consolidated and synthesised into easily accessible formats (e.g. maps, dashboards, fact sheets).

HOW DO WE
GET THERE?

PATHWAY 1

The tributaries of the Richmond catchment are protected and considered integral aspects of future planning, policy, and decision-making for the region.
PATHWAYACTIONTIMEFRAME
Richmond Riverkeeper maintains strong governance and commitment to continual improvementLaunch the Program Logic and draft business strategy, seeking feedback from the community before finalisingYear 1 (2024 – 2025)
Seek strategic or grant funding for a full time staff project officerYear 1 (2024 – 2025)
The Richmond Riverkeeper is recognised as a voice for the river and river stakeholders in catchment forums and decision-making processesCollaboration and participation in river stakeholder forums, committees, and projectsYears 1-5 (2024 – 2030)
Develop a communication, marketing and capacity building strategy to ensure communications is aligned with core values and aspirations for the riversYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)
Existing statutory river and ecosystem protection measures are actively implemented and enforced, and enhanced to provide maximum protectionCoordinate, promote and celebrate key river health achievements by partners and collaboratorsYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)
Collaborate with partners to advocate for legislative and policy changes to improve the protection of the rivers of the Richmond catchmentYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)

PATHWAY 2

Applied knowledge and capacity building – Leveraging a strong evidence-base, motivating and supporting positive changes in existing land management and use practices.
PATHWAYACTIONTIMEFRAME
A consolidated knowledge base and baseline across the ecological, social, cultural and economic dimensions of river healthEngage with key stakeholders, collaborators (e.g. research institutes), and local government to identify specific opportunities for collaborative planning and joint action to understand and document current river health drivers and impactsYear 1 (2024 – 2025)
Enhance cross-collaboration between universities, research institutes, government agencies, local government, not for profit organisations and other stakeholders to develop and share consistent key messages and promote the use of evidence-based data to address river health challenges and opportunitiesYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)
Tools, resources and knowledge to support land use planners and natural resource managers are readily available, easily accessible and demonstrating benefits to landholders/incentivesWork collaboratively with partners to improve data capture, automation, interaction and visualisation to enhance content management and communicationYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)
Members and collaborators have the knowledge and resources needed to seek and secure funding and supportCo-design a prototype framework for synthesising whole-of catchment data and information, including consideration of fit-for-purpose dashboards and report cards that can consolidate existing data to provide baseline information as well as a framework for monitoring progressYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)

PATHWAY 3

Gateway to networks, Richmond Riverkeeper is the trusted gateway to a vast network of collaborators across Aboriginal natural and cultural heritage, policy and strategy, local knowledge, scientific research, funding sources, industry and agriculture sector.

PATHWAYACTIONTIMEFRAME
Indigenous Custodians are respected through reciprocal engagement, where Community leads the conversation about caring for the rivers and waterways of the catchmentEngaging with, and supporting, the work of Local Aboriginal Lands Councils, Native Title organisations, and Aboriginal organisations and communities. Develop cultural protocols, taking a First Nations First approach. Respecting principles of reciprocity, self-determination and partnershipYears 1-5 (2024 – 2030)
Collaboration and partners are provided with an easy entry point to gain holistic perspectives and transdisciplinary knowledge about the catchmentEvolve the Riverkeeper website, work in collaboration with community, researchers, all levels of government and industry stakeholders to provide a whole picture of the catchment, showcasing the historical and current state of river through interactive user friendly experiencesYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)
Forums for regular contact between community, Traditional Custodians, state and local government, and key stakeholders involved in river health (or practices impacting on river health) are established and/or maintainedIdentify priority management areas for change and advocate for their inclusion in future decision making for the region. Establish Riverkeeper Communities of PracticeYears 2-5 (2025 – 2030)

PATHWAY 4

Coordinated action
PATHWAYACTIONTIMEFRAME
A whole of catchment, coordinated river-health monitoring program is actively delivered, influencing regional decision-makingEstablish and seek ongoing funds for a catchment wide eco-health monitoring program taking a catchment-wide citizen science approachYears 1-5 (2024 – 2030)

Measuring

Success

Monitoring, evaluation, reporting and continual improvement of Richmond Riverkeeper activities will be critical to establish a culture and framework for continual improvement and learning. Responsibilities for collecting and assessing, as well as communicating the results and strategies for improvement should be clearly assigned, however it is the role of the Richmond Riverkeeper Association President and members to review, discuss and take action to address any areas for improvement. The key evaluation questions (KEQs) and indicators of success should also be reviewed on a regular basis for example, as part of the review and development of annual work plans to ensure they focus on the areas of greatest importance to the Richmond Riverkeeper.

GOVERNANCE

The Richmond Riverkeeper governance structure takes a place-based approach to delivering four outcomes across our Intermediate & Long Term Vision.

The place-based approach is suggested as connection to place is a powerful mobilising factor, and may better enable grassroot action compared to more thematic or working group led approached (which also carries risks of establishing ‘’toothless tigers’’ and works becoming bogged down in meetings). Finally, a place-based approach also makes sense in terms of easing collaboration with Councils in the respective local government areas.

It is envisaged that each subgroup would be appointed a local leader/coordinator who would be the main port of call for that area, and be responsible for overseeing onground actions and recruitment as well as reporting back to the Richmond Riverkeeper Committee.

There can be as many (or as few) subgroups, depending on recruitment and overall regional priorities. The Riverkeeper may collaborate with local government and other partners and collaborators to help identify/define the localities, based on an assessment of priority for river health.

Achievements

The Richmond Riverkeeper is a member of the Global Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement.

Launched the first citizen science driven Ecological Health Report Card for the Richmond River.

The Richmond River Ecological Health Program, funded by a Southern Cross University VC Flood Recovery Grant, with support from the Richmond Riverkeeper Association and River Ecology Australia, aims to provide ongoing riparian and ecological river health information for the Richmond River and its waterways.

A major component of the program is examining the type and number of macroinvertebrates (water bugs) collected. This can tell us a lot about how healthy or unhealthy a river is because different macroinvertebrates have varying sensitivity to pollution.

See more: https://richmondriver.org.au/report-card

Research Projects

Southern Cross University is funding seven research and community engagement projects to aid ongoing flood recovery in the NSW Northern Rivers. Community engagement is a priority of the scheme.

See more: https://richmondriver.org.au/research-projects

Join us

Partnership, co-design and collaboration with community and other river stakeholders is key to all that we do. We cannot do this work alone!

Join us in our Mission to give the rivers of the Richmond River catchment a community voice.

Join now: https://richmondriver.org.au/contact

Website By Lion & Lamb

Richmond Riverkeeper was formally established in May 2022 with the overall aim of giving a voice to the rivers of the Richmond River and providing a foundation for a holistic approach to river management across the six local government areas that affects the river catchment including Byron Shire, Lismore City, Ballina Shire, Richmond Valley Shire, Kyogle Shire, and Rous County Council, drawing together expertise and commitment.

As a newly established organisation, Richmond Riverkeeper is keen to consolidate early business planning and establish a basis for its operations, with a focus on identifying key actions for the years 2024 – 2030 through its Vision and Business Strategy.

Richmond Riverkeeper commissioned the Alluvium Group to assist with this work. Development of the Strategy has been funded by a grant from the NSW Government, Department of Regional NSW.

• Alluvium Consulting
• Border Ranges Richmond Valley Landcare Network
• Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation
• Living Lab Northern Rivers
• Lion and Lamb
• Namabundah Farm, Bundjalung Tribal Society
• Northern Rivers Community Foundation
• Ozfish Unlimited
• Positive Change for Marine Life
• Revive the Northern Rivers
• Richmond Landcare Inc.
• Southern Cross University
• SJH Kreations
• Global Waterkeeper Alliance
• Whian Whian Landcare
• Wilsons River Landcare
• Yarra Riverkeeper

KEY EVALUATION QUESTIONSINDICATORS OF SUCCESSDATA SOURCE
IMPACT:
To what extent have we delivered on our long-term outcomes?
  • Influence and integrity
  • Applied knowledge and capacity building
  • Gateway to networks
  • Coordinated action / water quality
Increase in membership and subscriber numbersAssociation records, mailing lists, website analytics
Increased attendance of the Richmond Riverkeeper at key planning and policy forums relating to the health of the rivers and tributaries of the Richmond catchmentEvent evaluations
Improved statutory and regulatory protections of the river system and riparian zones throughout the Richmond catchment areaLegislative data
Awareness and engagement with, available tools, knowledge and resources for more sustainable land-use planning and practicesCase studies, Member / stakeholder interviews
Consolidated information and water quality data across the catchment is being accessedWebsite visits and downloads, Member / stakeholder interviews
Coordinated river health monitoring program designed and deliveredProject plans
Effectiveness:
To what extent has the Richmond Riverkeeper built & maintained networks?
Number of collaborations with local landholders and program delivery partnersProject plans
Community, Traditional Custodians feedback, review, and participationProject plans and agreements
Appropriateness:
To what extent are the resources adequate / appropriate to deliver project priorities?
Successful delivery of project plans and priority activities in line with our endorsement as Global WaterkeeperProject plans, Staff/ member interviews
Appropriateness:
How appropriate are the governance and program management arrangements and systems?
Annual governance check in’s undertakenMember / stakeholder interviews. Reporting to the Global Waterkeeper Alliance
Efficiency:
How can the Richmond Riverkeeper deliver its activities more efficiently?
Identified opportunities for collaboration and improved project coordinationStaff / member interviews