Governance encompasses the totality of mechanisms and instruments available for influencing social change in certain directions. The governance of water in Australia is typified by institutional complexity and uncertainty, due particularly to climate change, and challenges to the connectivity of people and their livelihoods with their biophysical environments.

Traditional modes of management and governance have struggled to deal with the uncertainty, complexity, interconnectedness and conflict that characterise water resource management.

The general issue of climate change adaptation needs to be grounded in context-specific ways. In this regard water and its managing is of central importance. If climate change adaptation is to be enacted then current governance arrangements need to be critically assessed and, where appropriate, replaced with more desirable forms. Understandings and practices are thus needed to effectively enact climate change adaptation, as well as to identify constraints to its effectiveness.

We look forward to this initiative making a positive contribution to water governance in Australia and beyond.

Our objectives:

  1. Create a community of conversation about water governance in Australia. 
  2. Build the capacity to create water governance research programs through a collaborative, multi-discipline and multi-institutional research network.
  3. Facilitate the interaction of water governance researchers with research-users to create opportunities for co-researching and information sharing.
  4. Provide opportunities for early-career water governance researchers to participate in the national network of researchers and research-users.
    Please feel free to raise any matters with us which you think may help us setting the 'initial starting conditions'.


A briefing paper based on the outputs from the online survey and National Workshop is available here.

A two-day Early Career Researcher Workshop was held in Melbourne in April 2011. The aim of the workshop was to bring together Early Career Researchers in the field of water governance for training and capacity building.

A third workshop day “Researching Water Governance: New Theories for New Practices” was held to involve a wider audience (including policy, NGO and private sector practitioners) with presentations on different theoretical approaches to water governance in the context of climate change adaptation, including the topics of maladaptation, transitions theory, landscape sociology, socio-ecological systems and frameworks of power. 

Contact us:

To join our mailing list and for all other enquiries, please contact:

Philip Wallis
Research Fellow, Uniwater
Monash Sustainability Institute
Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Phone: +61 3 9905 8709

Ray Ison
Professor, Systems for Sustainability
School of Geography & Environmental Science
Monash Sustainability Institute (Uniwater)
Monash University, Clayton Australia

Lee Godden
Melbourne Law School
The University of Melbourne
Victoria, Australia