The poor state of the Murray River has been framed to highlight negative environmental, social and economic consequences, particularly for farmers and growers. This paper draws on material gathered during focus group sessions with rural Aboriginal people living in the Riverland.
The paper presents their perspectives and experiences of the impact of a changing Murray River on their health and well-being. The impacts of settlement, river regulation, water quality decline and the introduction of exotic species on fishing, hunting, recreation, culture and health are discussed. These personal reflections outline a process of social and cultural dislocation associated with environmental changes since colonisation; but accelerated in more recent times following the over-use of the Murray River.
In this paper we argue that understanding the aetiology of disease for Aboriginal people in the Riverland requires also understanding recent shifts in the physical environment and the impact these shifts have on health and life-style.