New water fountains celebrate environment, education and storytelling

Media release

12 July 2021

New cultural water fountains at Deakin University's Waurn Ponds and Geelong Waterfront campuses will provide free access to fresh drinking water and reduce plastic waste while also quenching students, staff and visitors' thirst for knowledge about Traditional Owner culture and history.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin was joined this afternoon by the Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Harriet Shing, and Chair of Barwon Water, Jo Plummer, to celebrate the 23 new fountains and 12 existing re-branded fountains with a Welcome to Country ceremony, Smoking Ceremony and ribbon-cutting.

A joint initiative between Deakin University, Barwon Water, and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, the fountains feature Aboriginal artwork and inscriptions created by Wadawurrung artists Billy-Jay O'Toole and Corrina Eccles, designed to facilitate storytelling and an understanding and appreciation of Traditional Owner culture and history.

Professor Martin said the university and Barwon Water are committed to learning from the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters that we live and work on.

"The art and inscriptions on the new water fountains are designed to facilitate storytelling and an understanding and appreciation of Traditional Owner culture and history," Professor Martin said.

"The fountains are a wonderful way to teach, inspire and raise awareness of Wadawurrung values while also expressing our gratitude and thanks to the Traditional Custodians for nurturing and caring for Country, which sustains us all.

"Aside from being beautiful and educational, the water fountains are perfect for filling re-usable water bottles, which reduces the need for having to purchase single-use plastic bottles and reduces the amount of waste generated on campus.

"This will also bring the university one step closer to realising its goal of achieving zero waste by 2030; a target that aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."

Ms Shing said the project aims to inspire deeper cultural engagement by campus students, staff and visitors.

"While the water fountains will provide staff, students and visitors to Deakin a 'healthy and sustainable choice' option in terms of the provision of drinking water, they are also educational pieces that incorporate Traditional Owner knowledge, culture and living history," Ms Shing said.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. They have a strong connection to water as it forms a vital part of their life and culture.

"Deakin and Barwon Water value the continuing cultures and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the community and their ongoing connection to the land and water over many thousands of years."

Media contact

Katie Thompson
+61 3 9244 5256

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