Darwin Harbour Integrated Report Card Launched


The launch of the 2021 Darwin Harbour Integrated Report Card on 13 October 2021 was the culmination of an incredible partnership that brought together the views and experiences from all levels of government, industry, universities, NGO’s, local Aboriginal peoples, and community groups to determine the ecological, social, indigenous cultural and economic health of Darwin Harbour and surrounds.

The extensive stakeholder engagement effort beginning in March 2020 was used to reformulate the existing Darwin Harbour Report Card that was based on water quality data alone.

Project Director and Chair of the Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee (DHAC), Charles Darwin University (CDU) Professor Karen Gibb said, “Reinventing the Darwin Harbour report card to be more inclusive of Indigenous values and the important social and economic values of Darwin Harbour was a key feature of this effort”.

A diversity of stakeholders, including Indigenous Australians, were engaged in the development of the new indicators used to generate scores for 12 values identified as important in reflecting the health of Darwin Harbour and catchment.

Larrakia woman Lorraine Williams, who led the Indigenous stakeholder engagement, said “The report card consultation process engaged Larrakia and Belyuen people throughout the process, ensuring that Indigenous values were represented in the new integrated Darwin Harbour Report Card.”

A team of scientists from Charles Darwin University, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Griffith University’s International WaterCentre, and the Northern Territory Government obtained data for the report card through field surveys, remote sensing, existing government reports, interviews and surveys.

The overall grade for the integrated 2021 Darwin Harbour report card was B- with indicators for clean water, management, and lifestyles and recreation scoring highest, while indicators for sustainability and tourism scored the lowest. The global pandemic undoubtedly affected the scores in this year’s assessment, particularly regarding tourism.

While the report found that Darwin Harbour has clean water, is managed well and the local population uses the harbour to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, it showed moderate results for Indigenous values, jobs, and landscapes, and poor results for tourism and sustainability.

The 2021 report card has also identified gaps in data on significant values of the harbour. These gaps have been formed through limited ongoing monitoring of biodiversity, and difficulties in assessing the port of Darwin, multiculturalism, and resilience and climate change. These data gaps uncovered great opportunities for researchers into the future.

The 2021 report card has established a baseline for ongoing monitoring of the Harbour and its catchment. For this to remain relevant, new findings need to be collated and released each year to detect and track changes, both good and bad, which can be acted upon.

This integrated report card was the initiative of the Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee (DHAC) and the project was supported by multiple partners including the International WaterCentre, The Ian Potter Foundation, Charles Darwin University (CDU), Santos, Inpex, City of Darwin, Larrakia Development Corporation and the Northern Territory Government.

You can hear about the results of the report card through this fantastic video:

If you’d like to learn more about the report card you can visit the website here: