Jessica Weir is a Research Fellow in the Native Title Research Unit at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. She has a PhD from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on ecological and social issues in Australia, particularly water and ecological life. Her book Murray River Country: An Ecological Dialogue with Traditional Owners, has recently been published by Aboriginal Studies Press.
We Need Rain is a compilation of photos and voiceover by Jessica Weir, which highlights the importance of fresh water for all life in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. Here, the over-consumption of river water for irrigated crops is devastating the long held relationships that are meaningful to the traditional owners who know this place as their ancestral homelands.
This film reminds us how dependent we are on water's life force, and that we are not the ones who can bring the rain.
JESSICA WEIR: The large storages we built in the twentieth century have enabled us to store the flood waters of the Murray River and re-vision that river water as water for irrigation. The pipes and channels that fan out from the water storages are our vast new geography of water networks.
This water provided for our Murray Darling Basin agricultural heartland, but there has been a cost. The Murray River has ceased to flood the Murray River country. River health has declined. The traditional owners of the river country now have to argue with water bureaucracies about the importance of the river and the floods.
Droughts have always been part of the long term weather pattern, but with this drought, there was not enough water in storage for agriculture. We thought we would always have water to allocate, but we were wrong. We're not the ones running this show. Global climate shifts are telling us who is in charge. Governments can not deliver floods. We need rain, and yet we continue to argue over water allocations.
We need to listen to the people who know this country as their ancestral home. They are telling us something is profoundly wrong. If we do not listen, then we are all going to lose.