Lani Barnes
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

Lani Barnes

Lani, a proud Mulgu (Black Swan) woman, has a strong connection to Dharug Country in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Her passion lies in supporting and empowering First Nations people to care for Country and reconnect with their culture and community.

Actively involved in revitalising the Dharug language, Lani delivers language courses to expand the community of Dharug speakers. She also creates resources and tools to empower Dharug individuals to connect with their language and heritage.

She currently works for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and collaborates with First Nations people in the Murray–Darling Basin, learning how environmental water projects can benefit and empower them to care for their Country. Her work ensures that First Nations people have a say in decision-making for monitoring and research programs related to environmental water.

Lani possesses diverse experience within the Australian public service, connecting communities to government policies and programs. She has worked with remote communities on Christmas Island and Norfolk Island, co-designing solutions for water and resource challenges. Moreover, she has contributed to developing domestic water infrastructure options for regional and remote communities and place-based policies to enhance environmental outcomes and address socio-economic needs.

Prior to her public service career, Lani had a strong background in science and working with communities. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Sciences and a Master of Research in Geomorphology and Geochronology. During her time as a researcher, Lani established connections with communities in South-east Asia, applying geomorphology and geochronology to their significant sites, fostering an increased understanding of their ancestors’ interactions with the environment.