Abstract: Despite ongoing water resource innovation in Australia, many remote Indigenous communities remain at risk to detrimental water related health impacts. This study draws on a comprehensive review of remote areas research and application to identify the challenges facing sustainable water management on Indigenous homelands. We identify complex intersecting socio-cultural, technical and environmental dimensions that operate at different scales to impede safe water access. We propose a socio-ecological framework that can be used to address these complexities. Drawing on case studies in Cape York, Queensland we demonstrate how this approach can inform implementation outcomes for sustainable water management.