Delivering on what young people want – A webinar with the Murray Darling Basin Authority helps students understand Australia’s water

Did you know the Murray-Darling Basin region produces food for 40 million people (almost double Australia’s total population)?

Or that it is home to 2.6 million people, over 40 Aboriginal nations and 16 internationally recognised wetlands?

Did you know this mighty river-system actually has naturally low volumes of water – so low that the amount of water flowing out of the mouth of the Murray Darling in one year is the same as the Amazon’s flow in one day!

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PYiA connects learning to real world issues and our surveys show our young people are particularly interested in learning about how we ensure everyone has access to clean water and the role of our river catchments in delivering this .

One of our aims is to work with supporting partners to introduce these young people to experts and so, in order to deliver on what our young people want, PYiA recently facilitated a series of webinars for schools participating in Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize. The webinars were hosted by John Holloway from the education team at the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

John Holloway showing the students how much fresh water there is on earth if the earth was one metre across 

“We love virtual presentations and often it’s the only way to do them when the Murray-Darling Basin is over a million square kilometres. I love the look of understanding when kids can connect to new knowledge and see something with new eyes. We use water everyday but we rarely stop to think how special it is,” John says.

John tailored his presentations to both primary and secondary students.

“For Years 5 and 6 our key message is knowledge and awareness of the Basin as a special national asset. We all know, and can picture, the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, or Uluru—but despite its vital significance many Australians are oblivious to the Murray-Darling Basin. It’s such a massive and diverse system – really a living thing – and we struggle to get our heads around it. With older students we like to get the message across that water management, like many of our big 21st century challenges, is very complex and often contested. There are no simple answers – but this is something that all Australians are in together,” he says.

Kreative Koala participants Caragabal Public School and St Joseph’s Primary School at Grenfell fall within the catchment for the Murray-Darling Basin and water is always front of mind for these students. Caragabal recently celebrated the coming of the rain in an ABC story, and both schools found particular relevance in the seminar.

Danielle Schneider is a teacher at St Joseph’s and is leading her students through sustainability with a specific focus on water management.

“The highpoints from the webinar included speaking directly with John Holloway who was exceptionally knowledgeable and provided the students with information on the importance of water and sustainable water use and management within the Murray-Darling Basin.

The key messages the students took home were that there is a finite amount of water available on Earth and, therefore, it is essential to look after the water we have, sustain this, and recycle it where possible. Another key message was that the Murray Darling Basin Authority and the Australian States work to control Murray-Darling Basin water and we must all use it wisely and appreciate it. Overall, the webinar educated students about the Murray-Darling Basin. This linked well to our class studies based on sustainability and water use. It provided students with access to valuable input not always easily accessible to us in the past,” she says.

The MBDA seminars were a wonderful way to connect to students participating in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas, and we look forward to facilitating further webinars in the future, guided and informed by what our young people want.

#SDG14 #SDG15 #KreativeKoalaKids