Brisbane, Australia

Professor Poh-Ling Tan



Professor Poh-Ling Tan is IWC Professor of Water Law and Governance, Griffith University. Poh-Ling has strong legal, analytical, oral and written communication skills gained over 35 years of work in legal practice and academia. Since the mid-1990s her research and teaching has focused on water reform in Australia, investigating real-life problems facing communities, Traditional Owners, stakeholders and water agencies. She has been invited to provide policy advice leading to outcomes on national, regional and local scales.

Recognised as one of the foremost water governance experts at state, national and international levels, Poh-Ling serves as an Expert Panel member advising the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mine and Energy; a member on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Advisory Committee on Social, Ecological and Environmental Sciences and the OECD’s Water Governance Initiative. She was recently appointed by the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to an Independent panel auditing governance of non-urban water.

She works with others across bio-physical and social sciences, winning several research awards. Her successful research collaborations adopt culturally respectful research practices, vital in engaging with regional communities and Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, South Australia, and far northern and western Queensland. She has published two books, numerous other publications and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Water Law. She speaks three languages and is adept at cross-cultural communication.


  • Water governance and water planning
  • Interface between law, science, policy and implementation
  • Indigenous engagement in water reform
  • Property law
  • PhD, Australian National University
  • Bachelor of Laws (2A Hons) University of Malaya
  • Bachelor of Laws (1st class Hons), Queensland University of Technology
  • Solicitor, Qld; Barrister and Solicitor, ACT;  Barrister, NSW
  • Advocate and Solicitor, Malaya
  • Membership of Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences, since 2013.
  • Membership of Water Referral Panel advising the Queensland Minister for Natural Resource and Mines, from 2003-2013; re-appointed 2017.
  • Member of the OECD Water Governance Initiative since 2015.
  • Consulting for the National Water Commission, Queensland and NSW Governments on issues relating to law reform in water resources.
  • Research for Australian Research Council and other funding organisations, and reviewing applications for grants.
  • Providing expert advice to several organisations including the National Cultural Flows Project.
  • Strong cross-cultural skills, involved with the International Water Centre’s and Griffith University’s training programs for water professionals from many parts of Asia including Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • Compromising confidence? Water, coal seam gas and mining governance reform in Queensland and Wyoming’ (2018), Cameron Holley and Darren Sinclair (eds) Reforming Water Law and Governance, Springer (with Jacqui Robertson)
  • ‘Adaptive or aspirational? Governance of diffuse water pollution affecting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef’ (2018), Water International) (with Fran Humphries)
  • ‘Finding Diamonds in the Dust: Community Engagement in Murray-Darling Basin Planning’ (2017) in Barry Hart and Jane Doolan (eds) Decision Making in Water Resources Policy and Management, Elsevier (with Kate Auty)
  • ‘Cumulative risk management, coal seam gas, sustainable agriculture in Australia’, (2015) International Journal of Water Resources Development, (with D. George and M. Comino) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2014.994593
  • ‘Between the Cracks: Water Governance in Queensland, Australia and potential Cumulative Impacts from Mining Coal Seam Gas’ (2014) Water Law Vol 23 (3), pp 210-228, (with M. Comino and D. George).
  • ‘Impossible Dreaming – Does Australia’s law and policy fulfil Indigenous Aspirations?’ (2013) Environmental and Planning Law Journal, vol. 30, p. 132-149 (with S. Jackson) Article available online.
  • ‘Deliberative Tools for Meeting the Challenges of Water Planning in Australia’, (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol 474, p. 2-10 (with K. Bowmer and J. Mackenzie) Article available online.
  • ‘Tools to Enhance Public Participation and Confidence in the Development of the Howard East Aquifer Water Plan, Northern Territory’, (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol 474, p. 22-28 (with S. Jackson and S. Nolan) Article available online.
  • ‘South Australia’s River Murray: Social and cultural values in water planning’, in (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 29-37 (with Carla Mooney). Article available online.
  • ‘Water Planning in the Condamine Alluvium, Queensland: sharing information and eliciting views in a context of overallocation’, (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 38-46 (with C. Baldwin, I. White and K. Burry) Article available online.
  • ‘Principles and Guidelines for Good Practice in Indigenous Engagement in Water Planning’, (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 57-65 (with S. Jackson, C. Mooney, S. Hoverman and I. White) Article available online.
  • ‘Transparency and trade-offs in water planning’, (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 66-73 (with C. Mooney, C. Baldwin and J. Mackenzie) Article available online.
  • ‘How scientific knowledge informs community understanding of groundwater’, in (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 74-83 (with C. Baldwin, I. White, S. Hoverman and K. Burry) Article available online.
  • ‘Continued challenges in the policy and legal framework for collaborative water planning’, in (2012) Journal of Hydrology, vol. 474, p. 84-91 (in K. H. Bowmer and C. Baldwin) Article available online.

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