Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Narrap Team River Health Workshops

Project overview

Alongside Melbourne Water staff, and water industry research leaders, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Narrap Unit have developed and been running a multi-workshop knowledge and capacity building program. This project provides opportunities for staff to develop research skills, and enhance freshwater knowledge through covering a variety of freshwater ecology and waterway restoration topics. The Narrap Unit have been engaging waterway researchers and specialists to deliver these sessions which are combination of ‘classroom’ style presentation and on Country learning.

This project has taken a collaborative design approach allowing all Narrap Unit staff to participate in the design of the workshops. The program has been structured in a progressive way, with the first two sessions focusing on water chemistry and waterway physical structure to help establish a foundational base of knowledge for participants to build off as the program progresses. The following three workshops covered different aspects of waterway ecology, and systems with each each including content on certain animals, habitat, plants and threats faced. The final workshop of the program is planned to debrief and review the project, and discuss future collaborative research opportunities.

Narrap Unit reflections

The Narrap Unit has enjoyed and appreciated the workshops run through this program. The program has centred around the themes and topics that interest the crew, and has therefore been a Wurundjeri led program.

The mix between the ‘theoretical’ and ‘applied’ aspects of the program has been a successful approach in enabling the team to strengthening waterway systems knowledge. Every presenter who participated has been respectful, comfortable and genuinely supportive of the Narrap Unit’s goals.

Outcomes and impacts

This project has had varied outcomes.

Knowledge building

Through this project the Narrap Unit have learnt from, and worked with, waterway research, scientist and leaders. The team have expanded their knowledge of waterway system function and ecology. The knowledge shared through these workshops supports the team in their daily work of taking care of waterways across Wurundjeri Country.

Relationship building

From the outset, this project has helped build relationships. The initial project proposal was developed collaboratively between the Narrap Unit and Melbourne Water, and seen as a collaborative knowledge sharing opportunity. Respectful engagement and collaborative research, requires strong meaningful relationships, and this project has helped build the relationship between the Narrap Unit, Melbourne Water and the presenters who participated.

Inform future research

The workshops provided overview of some core themes and topics. Whilst there is only so much that can be covered in a one-day workshop, these sessions will help inform future research opportunities. They have provided an important knowledge base from where further research programs can be developed.

Future opportunities

There are many future collaborative research opportunities, and Melbourne Water’s Knowledge Sharing Protocol will support their development. The final workshop of the program is planned to debrief and review the project, and will discuss research the Narrap Unit are interested in developing.

Through different projects and discussions with other parts of Melbourne Water, there are some research projects already underway or in planning:

  • Lower Yarra Billabong research: vegetation surveys, eDNA, water quality monitoring, eel research, bird surveys
  • ARC Linkage application to combine and expand elements of the Lower Yarra Billabong research, with a particular focus on impacts of fire on Country

-    Freshwater mussel exploration and potential for restoration

-    Upper Yarra ecological monitoring


The Narrap Unit has enjoyed and appreciated working with Melbourne Water and all the presenters as part of the project. This program has run with uncertainty and difficulties due to COVID-19 restrictions, but working with Melbourne Water staff and the organising workshops has been relatively easy (even with a few required reschedules). The team look forward working together on research projects.

A particular thanks to Rhys Coleman for his support and assistance at every stage of this project.