Registrations have re-opened and 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. 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 our delegates, and some notable speakers too. Day one will see the conference open with the Parliamentary Secretary, Harriet Shing joining us to discuss progress against Water for Victoria, and then we’ll open the floor for a facilitated conversation with the Parliamentary Secretary.
Following Ms Shing, our keynote presentation will be delivered by Dr Norman Swan. Dr Swan has provided an ongoing commentary and narrative to the Australian public on the Australian experience of the coronavirus pandemic. His podcast, the 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 disruptive environment. Norman 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 Jane Doolan, Commissioner, Productivity Commission, Ron Ben-David, Professorial Fellow, Monash University, Gerard Brody, CEO, Consumer Action Law Centre and Karlene Maywald, Managing Director of Maywald Consultants, when they go head-to-head on this important topic.
Among other great sessions, day two will see us 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 session will be facilitated by ABC journalist and RN Drive host, Patricia Karvelas, who reported on Indigenous affairs for more than 10 years.
The 2021 Annual Conference will be a fantastic event, made all the more exciting by having to postpone the event due to the pandemic, it will be wonderful to come together in person after another year navigating isolation and long lockdowns. The thought-provoking sessions, excellent line up of speakers, coming together for the conference dinner and the beautiful surroundings of the Langham in Melbourne is certain to make it a conference to remember. Registrations are open once again, and we can’t wait to see you there.