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Designing with Country

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The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is privileged to be working on a Designing with Country project for the Parramatta River catchment.

The purpose of the project is to bring to life the connection between Aboriginal culture and the waterways and land in the catchment through interpretive design elements for the community to understand and enjoy. It also aims to strengthen ties with local Aboriginal communities to foster opportunities for collaboration and partnership on projects related to waterway health and management.

The project is funded through a grant under the Metropolitan Greenspace Program, which supports councils to deliver projects that improve regional open space and community liveability as part of the NSW Government’s vision for a ‘Green Grid’ across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast.

The PRCG will work closely with a panel of Aboriginal representatives and their communities, local councils and Sydney Water to develop a catchment-wide design guide that specifies standards around the use of language, art, landscaping and other elements. The guide will also identify locations for future interpretive design projects that may include murals, sculptures, tree plantings and heritage trails.

A research document on the cultural significance of the waterways and surrounding places as well as the lived experiences of Aboriginal people within the catchment will also be produced, based on oral histories and other input in consultation with panel members and their communities.

The Designing with Country project supports the objectives of the Parramatta River Masterplan to recognise the traditional owners of the Parramatta River and their important cultural ties to Country. It also aims to increase Aboriginal leadership in waterway governance by strengthening relationships between local and state government agencies, Aboriginal groups and community members, to facilitate ongoing management and business opportunities. The project is expected to be completed by September 2022.

Aboriginal Design Framework – Request for Quotation

The City of Canada Bay Council is seeking quotations from suitably qualified or experienced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design consultancies to prepare an Aboriginal Design Framework on behalf of the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), as part of the Designing with Country for the Parramatta River Catchment project.

Please ensure your quotation is submitted on or before 4:00pm, Tuesday, 20 July 2021.

Download the Aboriginal Design Framework – Project Brief

Download the Aboriginal Design Framework – Information Sheet

Expression of Interest – Consultation Services

The PRCG will also be releasing an Expression of Interest in July 2021, inviting eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) community organisations to provide consultation services for the Designing with Country project.

For more information, contact the PRCG Coordinator, Nell Graham, on 9121 0009 or at:


Image: Parramatta Riverside Walk mural created by Ngemba artist Jamie Eastwood in 2000.


Regional Litter Prevention Strategy for Greater Sydney Harbour

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The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) are working on a Regional Litter Prevention Strategy (RLPS) for the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment.

The project is being funded through a $90,000 grant from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in the Own It and Act: Round 6 Community Litter Grant funding stream.

Over the next five years, the strategy aims to reduce litter to Greater Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers by 50 per cent – equivalent to half the 2,150 cubic metres of marine debris collected by the Maritime Environmental Services in 2019 which would fill almost half an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The strategy will create a unified and coordinated approach to litter prevention across the Greater Sydney Harbour catchments, by establishing clear actions and programs that can be
embedded in all participating councils and community organisations.

Community engagement and involvement are also a key part of the strategy, through the development of training and riverkeeper ambassador programs, foreshore clean-ups, and litter enforcement campaigns.

Actions within the strategy will be tested with community organisations and businesses in three pilot council areas, before being rolled out to all remaining member councils of the SCCG and PRCG across the Greater Sydney Harbour region.

A Project Officer has been appointed who will collaborate with key stakeholders and develop the strategy under the direction of the RLPS Steering Committee.

Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper

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The Parramatta River flows through the geographic heart of Sydney and one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. Making the river swimmable delivers on the sustainability and liveability goals in the Greater Sydney Commission’s District Plans and is core to achieving the vision for Sydney’s Central River City.

Step 4 of the Parramatta River Masterplan is focused on reviewing the strategic and statutory planning frameworks that contribute to delivering our vision for a world class river. Working closely with our partners, our review has resulted in the release of a recommendations paper, Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River.

The paper sets out three broad areas for planning reform:

  1. Simple updates to council’s Local Environment Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs), to adopt over the next few years. These changes will ensure that development does more to reduce stormwater pollution and foster healthy ecosystems.
  2. Developing, piloting and adopting two new frameworks for improving waterway health outcomes in new development:
    • A Blue Green Index Tool for assessing development applications
    • A Blue Green Grid for riparian mapping
  3. Working with our project partners and stakeholders to strengthen and support waterway health considerations in all planning approval pathways. This will require broader reform beyond the remit of local government.

Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper
Download the full Final Recommendations Paper

Recommendations Paper Executive Summary
Download the Recommendations Paper Executive Summary

To get an overview of this planning reform work, please watch this short video.

Final Recommendations Paper Webinar Series

The consultancy team from Civille and Macquarie University held a series of short webinars in order to share the key recommendations in the recently released paper for Step 4Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River and get attendees thinking about how we move the recommendations into implementation.

Webinar 1: Improving local planning provisions for diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health

This webinar provides council and agency staff with an overview of the drivers for policy reform to address the issues of diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health in new development. It covers the recommendations contained within the recently released paper for Step 4: Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River, focusing on the two key policy directions: the blue green index for WSUD and green infrastructure and the blue-green grid of waterway and riparian land. The webinar then goes into some detail on the actions specific to councils on updating their Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans.

Webinar 2: A blue-green index to reduce diffuse stormwater pollution

This webinar introduces the proposed new blue-green index tool. We explain how we think this new tool can address the complex planning issues that exist in stormwater management in Sydney. We also look at the proposed features of this new tool and compare it to similar tools that have been adopted in Australia and elsewhere. We will then go into the steps required to pilot the tool and a discussion on the challenges.

Webinar 3: Blue-green grid for improved waterway health

This webinar introduces the concept of a blue-green grid for the Parramatta River catchment. It is suitable for council and agency staff interested in waterway and catchment management, strategic planning and biodiversity conservation. We discuss the reasons why we need the blue-green grid, how it could be implemented across the catchment, and the next steps required to develop the grid.

Learn more about Step 4 of the Parramatta River Masterplan – Standardise the Standards.