VicWater Annual Conference: What to expect

With just over five weeks to go, the excitement is building for the VicWater Annual Conference. More than ever, the past 12 to 18 months have proven how unpredictable the world can be, and this informs the theme of our conference this year. From pandemics to wildfires, drought and floods, our theme of Resilience and Readiness is more pertinent to our sector than ever.

We’ve got some great sessions lined up for the delegates, and some notable speakers too. Day one will see the conference open with a keynote presentation by Dr Norman Swan. Dr Swan has provided an ongoing narrative and commentary to the public on the Australian experience of the coronavirus pandemic.

His podcast, Coronacast, has had almost three million downloads and has provided an informed voice of reason in a period of deep uncertainty. In his keynote presentation, Dr Swan will speak about human behaviour, perceptions and how to build trust in an uncertain and disruptive environment. Swan is known for his evidence-based investigative journalism and applying his insights to the water sector will undoubtedly provide a fascinating and thought-provoking presentation.

Another conference highlight that we can’t wait to witness, is The Great Water Debate – Minimising Price versus Maximising Value. The debate will interrogate the ideas of minimising price and maximising value and consider ways the sector is fulfilling either premise. The debate will analyse how we can ensure the financial sustainability of the water sector, while maintaining quality customer services. Renowned television journalist Beverley O’Connor will moderate what will be an extremely engaging debate. O’Connor’s career has taken her from TV news anchor on Channel 7, to sport and political commentator. We’re excited that she is part of our Annual Conference and look forward to seeing her manage our speakers when they go head-to-head on this important topic.

The afternoon session will see Rob Gell facilitate a discussion on the circular economy. The focus of the discussion will be on how we can work together on the shared goal of becoming leaders in the circular economy.

We are also fortunate enough to be joined by the Parliamentary Secretary to discuss progress against Water for Victoria, and then we’ll open the floor for a facilitated conversation. This will be followed by a session that will examine how we can manage country for resilience and readiness.

The session will challenge the Eurocentric understanding of agriculture and how it differs from Traditional Owners’ connection with the land. We will seek to better understand what managing country means beyond our own limited definitions so we can move closer to incorporating Aboriginal practices into managing water resources. The discussion will be facilitated by ABC journalist and RN Drive host, Patricia Karvelas, who reported on Indigenous affairs for more than 10 years.

The conference is shaping up to be a fantastic event - the thought-provoking sessions, excellent line up of speakers, and the beautiful surroundings of the Langham in Melbourne is certain to make it a conference to remember. Registrations are open and we can't wait to see you there.