Rueben Berg is a Gunditjmara man passionate about the cultural connection to water that has existed for Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
The Victorian Environmental Water Holder welcomed Rueben as a Commissioner in September and he is already bringing a strong Aboriginal voice to the work of the water for the environment program.
"My family have close connections to Country through the Hopkins River. It's a place where my ancestors lived for tens of thousands of years and a place I still take my kids to today.
"Water is the lifeblood of the land and Aboriginal people recognised the life-supporting value of water early on. We were Australia's first waterway managers, making modifications like the aquaculture system at Budj Bim.
"Aboriginal traditional ecological knowledge is an asset to managing waterways. With such a long history of observing, using and our connections to water, we have so much knowledge to share.
"I have already seen some great initiatives happening here in Victoria through the VEWH and its partners, such as Aboriginal Water Week and the watering of culturally significant sites such as Bolin Bolin Billabong.
"Bringing water management authorities and Traditional Owner groups together to manage and protect our waterways is beneficial for everyone, and a learning experience.
"Anyone who has an interest in the health of our waterways should engage any way they can. I want to hear perspectives on water from all Victorians that can inform how we best deliver water for the environment to benefit everyone. Involving Aboriginal Victorians in decisions and getting cultural benefits from environmental flows is also a great outcome."
Rueben's CV is impressive – he is a current Director at Westernport Water and a member of the Water for Country Project Control Group. He has held senior positions as the Founder and Managing Director of RJHB Consulting and a Founding Director of Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria. To top it all off he is an ultimate frisbee guru on the international scene, including founding the Indigenous Ultimate Frisbee Association. Rueben is currently trying to convince the VEWH staff to brush up on their frisbee skills! The VEWH welcomes Rueben's appointment to the role, which he has jumped into with enthusiasm, bringing his extensive knowledge to building a stronger environmental water program.