From the CEO
Welcome to the Autumn 2017 edition of Water Matters. It seems passé or disingenuous for me to say in the opening of each of my CEOs reports that the Victorian water sector continues to be extremely busy but despite this perception the words hold true in their sincerity. The Victorian water sector continues to pursue a number of new and exciting priority initiatives, all whilst ensuring excellence in service delivery to customers and the broader environment.
As reported in my last CEOs report, this year the terms of 87 water corporation board directors will expire, this represents 52% of Victorian water corporation director positions. A recent expression of interest process, conducted by DELWP, resulted in 730 applications.
A selection panel comprising Craig Cook (former director Goulburn Murray Water), Peter Wilson (former Chair, Yarra Valley Water), Joan Liley (former Chair, South Gippsland Water), Sonia Petering (former director, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water) and Peter Tuohey (former President, Victorian Farmers Federation) are interviewing and recommending candidates for the Minister for Water’s consideration.
DELWP have indicated that the quality and quantity of applicants was very high with 33% from regional Victoria and 45% female. DELWP have consulted with all 19 Chairs to discuss the board’s current skill matrix and requirements to help the businesses meet their future challenges.
The new appointments will commence on 1 October 2017.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to two new Managing Directors to the Victorian water industry. Sarah Cummings who took over Managing Director responsibilities at Gippsland Water last month (5 April) and Terri Benson whose first day at South East Water is actually today (29 May).
Sarah has extensive experience in successfully leading transformational change and implementing large scale technology solutions across multiple tiers of government.
Terri is a highly experienced Chief Executive Officer and has held a range of both executive and non-executive director roles in both the government and private utility and infrastructure sectors.
As the CEO of VicWater I look forward to working with both Sarah and Terri and their respective teams in the pursuit of extraordinary industry performance.
VicWater ran a new event this year entitled the Future State of Electricity Conference – A Blue Print for Water. We envisage this type of event will become a regular item on the VicWater event calendar. The purpose of this event was to pick a key challenge for the industry which involves critical suppliers, undertake a detailed analysis of the supply chain and then bring the supply chain into a forum whereby water sector delegates can discuss their views of the future, the risk and/or challenges and the opportunities.
The Future State of Electricity Conference – A Blue Print for Water event showcased to those in attendance a ‘System Thinking Model’ by means of reviewing the current state and analysing the future state (including potential risks) in the electricity supply chain network.
The event was well represented by external partners in the electricity supply chain space with the goal of fostering engagement and providing in-depth learning from sectors outside our own.
VicWater believes it is very important that our sector hear from and connect with other sectors and our supply chain.
In terms of the policy items that VicWater are focussing on, these are the key items:
1. State Environmental Protection Policy (SEPP)
A significant amount of progress has been made on the SEPP review in recent months. During late 2016, VicWater together with DELWP and EPA coordinated a series of workshops to discuss priority clauses. Following that, the SEPP review team drafted a set of revised clauses for consideration (relating to: offsets, sewerage management and regional target setting). Water corporations have since provided feedback on the draft clauses.
VicWater has had four objectives during this process: 1) to retain some regulatory certainty (e.g. the 1 in 5 containment standard); 2) to provide flexibility by creating a risk-based alternative to rigid instruments like the 1 in 5 containment standard; 3) to ensure that the risk-based alternative pathway is practical and not overly onerous; and 4) to replace non-risk based instruments (like the requirement to continually reduce mixing zones) with risk-based instruments.
Overall, VicWater is very satisfied with the review process. However, recent working group meetings have included some robust exchanges as we address more contentious parts of the SEPP. In particular, there was a strong push by the EPA’s License Assessment Unit to retain a number of the outgoing SEPP’s non-risk based instruments (like the mixing zone reduction requirement)
I am very confident that we will be able to negotiate a favourable outcome on these matters. However, success depends on maintaining a united negotiating position.
2. Red tape
Red tape reduction continues to be a priority for VicWater. A recent red tape issue that was brought to our attention is the planning permit requirement for Works in the Public Conservation and Resource Zone (PCRZ). Prior to 2014, water corporations benefitted from a broad exemption in Clause 62 of the Victorian Planning Provisions which allowed water corporations to carry out certain works in PCRZ land without planning permission.
In April 2014, this broad exemption was replaced by one which specifically applies to the Public Land Manager. Since that change, routine works to repair or replace water corporation assets in the PCRZ have required a planning permit be issued by the council.
In March this year, VicWater wrote to both the Minister for Water and the Minister for Planning to seek a resolution to this matter. The Planning Minister recently responded with a commitment to address this issue in the upcoming amendment to the Victorian Planning Provisions
This is an example of the ongoing work at VicWater to identify and remove instances of excessive and unnecessary regulatory burden for members. I encourage you to send any other potential areas/issues that VicWater could pursue on behalf of the sector to James Cleaver.
After working hard to ensure the Water for Victoria (WfV) strategy included sensible action on offsets, VicWater was been progressing the offsets agenda through both the WfV action plan and the SEPP review
The SEPP wastewater clause language was never seen as a barrier to offsets and is unlikely to change significantly during the current review. However, an evolving part of the offsets discussion within SEPP may be to allow for an acceptable level of non-compliance where there is non-regulatory offset or an approved plan (such as an IWM plan) that includes offsetting interventions where the net gain for the environment is greater.
The objective is to provide the flexibility for water corporations to trial offsetting interventions.
The VicWater annual conference this year has been themed Micro Solutions for Macro Problems and will explore the way that local, specific and targeted responses can provide a cumulative macro solution to a problem. It is all too easy to become daunted by the scale of some of these macro challenges, but the aggregated impact of micro solutions can be significant and by focusing on these micro solutions the macro problems don’t seem so big.
VicWater is proud to continue to deliver this conference which is unique in the sector both in terms of its content and audience. The VicWater Annual Conference has been an integral part of the sector’s calendar throughout the Association’s 20 year history. We encourage directors, executives and stakeholders to be part of what is sure to be a very interesting couple of days.< PreviousNext >
Sarah Cumming - Managing Director, Gippsland Water
Sarah lives in Traralgon, Gippsland and has a very strong connection to the Gippsland community with her family having lived in the Gippsland region for many generations.
The family connection to the Water Industry is significant with her great grandfather being a Commissioner of the Waterworks Trust.
Sarah’s professional background:
Sarah has extensive experience in successfully leading transformational change and implementing large scale technology solutions across multiple tiers of government. On top of this is expertise in governance, strategic leadership, business transformation and creating enabling cultures to deliver process improvements.
Most recently the General Manager Corporate Services at Latrobe City Council, Sarah previously held a range of senior management positions at the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC), and commenced her career as a litigation lawyer with a national law firm.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts (ANU), Bachelor of Law (Honours) (ANU), and an Executive MBA (Mt Eliza/Melbourne Business School) and is an AICD graduate.
Sarah’s water industry experience:
Sarah was previously a Director at Gippsland Water having been first appointed to the Gippsland Water board in 2011.
What VicWater group(s) do you participate in?
Managing Directors forums.
From your perspective what is the top issue affecting you in your current role / your business/ the water industry at the moment?
The Gippsland region is going through significant and challenging change. From the closure of major industries and Gippsland Water customers such as Energy Brix and the Hazelwood Power Station, to the unprecedented growth in towns such as Warragul and Drouin, the diversity and resilience of our region in itself presents a unique operating environment for an urban water corporation.
Alongside this we continue to see an increase in unemployment and hardship in the region – particularly across the Latrobe Valley – and customer affordability is a growing concern for Gippsland Water.
There is a delicate balance to be achieved in order to deliver customer affordability in a constricting regional economic climate that is impacting Gippsland Water’s major customer base.
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Tracey Slatter - Managing Director, Barwon Water
One of the benefits of leading the Barwon Water team is that my family and I are able to enjoy living on the Surf Coast! Driving The Great Ocean Road is on most people’s bucket lists and we are lucky to spend our weekends visiting the stunning beaches and national parks, enjoying local produce at local markets and in restaurants. It is a great place for our family.
I have always had a love for Geelong and the region and have held several senior leadership roles here including CEO Colac Otway Shire (2004-2008) and Head of Claims at the TAC (2009-2013).
Most recently I was CEO at the City of Port Phillip and while I loved working in such a vibrant municipality, it is wonderful to be back in the Barwon region.
I have held a number of executive leadership roles across Victorian and local government organisations which has given me great insight into the workings of government at all levels. I hold postgraduate qualifications in Business Leadership and a Master of Commerce.
My background in local government provides me with an in-depth understanding of how water authorities can best work with their local counterparts and provide exceptional service to our customers and deliver positive outcomes for the community.
The Barwon region is an incredible part of Victoria – a great community to live and work in. And the secret is well and truly out! More and more people are joining us in Geelong, on the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast and the subsequent impacts of population growth and climate change are ones we are planning for and managing.
Geelong is transitioning from being a manufacturing hub to an education, health and innovation centre. There is significant investment across the region and Barwon Water is working closely with these emerging businesses and sectors to identify opportunities and enterprises.
Barwon Water is transitioning in how we do business. We are shifting our mindset from water utility to being a leader of our region’s prosperity.
It is our role to continue to strengthen the region’s economy, livability and sustainability through the delivery of high quality and affordable water and sewerage services.
What VicWater group(s) do you participate in?
From your perspective what is the top issue affecting you in your current role / your business/ the water industry at the moment?
Continuing to address climate change and working towards zero emissions and zero waste are our priorities.
We are already working on 1MW behind the meter solar facility at Black Rock and have other ideas to come.
The array of 2,880 panels at Barwon Water’s Black Rock environmental precinct will feed renewable energy directly to the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant – the corporation’s largest energy using site.
At a rated capacity of 1,000 kilowatts (1 megawatt), the project will generate around 1,300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is enough to power about 300 homes, and save around 1500 tonnes of carbon emissions. The project will initially save more than $130,000 in yearly operating costs and will increase if grid electricity prices rise. Payback period of 11 years.
We are weeks away from moving back to our redeveloped headquarters – a $32 million project that created more than 90 local jobs.
Overall, replacing our South Geelong office and the old Ryrie Street building with the new, refurbished Ryrie HQ, will see a 77 per cent reduction in electricity use and 97 per cent reduction in gas use.
We are also adopting a more entrepreneurial mindset where innovation is embraced and connection with our customers, community and stakeholders is at the forefront.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Annual Conference
This year’s VicWater Annual Conference will be held on 14– 15 September 2017 at The Langham in Southbank and has been themed MICRO SOLUTIONS FOR MACRO PROBLEMS. Over the two days the program will investigate how micro solutions being small, local and specific solutions can help solve bigger challenges.
We are currently undertaking a review of the call for papers that were submitted to build the program which we plan to release in August. Planning for the main Conference dinner is taking shape with the following elements secured:
- Aaron Wood will be providing EmCee duties for the evening. Aaron is an Australian environmental activist, MD of Kids teaching Kids and 2012 Telstra Business Award winner.
- Entertainment will be provided by Sulari Gentill, an Australian award winning author, who initially studied astrophysics before becoming a corporate lawyer, but has since become a writer whilst growing French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW, which she shares with her young family and several animals. Sulari is author of award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime fiction novels set in the 1930s about Rowland Sinclair, the gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective.
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VicWater/IWA Innovation Conference
This year the VicWater’s Innovation Conference and IWA’s June Conference will combine together and take place on the 22 & 23 June 2017 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Submissions for innovation concepts across the industry have been received and we are now finalising the program to be released towards the end of May. As with previous Innovation events, this conference will provide an opportunity for water corporations to share ideas and be enlightened to the latest and greatest projects and initiatives being implemented in the sector with several series of short, sharp 8 minute presentations divided into 4 sessions: Connected Customers & Communities, Digital Future, Culture & Leadership and Low Tech Innovation.
For further information on this conference, please feel free to contact Lauren Vines.< PreviousNext >
VicWater's 2017 Future State of Electricity Conference
Last week VicWater successfully concluded a two day conference which presented a ‘System Level Thinking’ on achieving ‘Energy Targets’ and Reducing Emissions in line with the Victorian State Government’s commitment to ‘renewable energy generation targets’ of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025.
The Future State of Electricity conference attracted key decision makers and influencers from the water and energy industries together with leaders from Victorian Government, Regulators, Generators, Network Service Providers, Energy Storage, Contractors, Retailers, Micro Grid Operators, Energy Farmers, Carbon Market Participants, Bankers and Investors.
The program offered a list of distinguished presenters who provided in-depth learnings from their respective industries. This served as a catalyst in sparking new ideas and facilitated genuine opportunities for the senior leadership of the Victorian water and energy industry to meet, network and forge new relationships.
Some of the highlights of the conference program included:
- Simon Corbell, Renewable Energy Advocate DELWP, who represented the Victorian Government and its initiatives to enable the transition.
- Nick Carter, Manager Tesla Energy (Asia Pacific) who presented the future of storage and its applications in large scale renewable projects.
- The message of renewables was further brought home by members of the Yackandandah community who made an impressive after dinner presentation on their efforts to date in making their community 100% renewable by the year 2022.
Thanks to Downer Utilities who were the Major Infrastructure Partner along with Deakin University who provided research support for the conference along with other supporting bodies listed below.
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VicWater Finance Conference
The 2017 Finance Managers Conference was held in Lorne, continuing the tradition of alternating between a regional and metropolitan venue. The theme was ‘A catalyst for agility’ and the program saw the return of some highly popular speakers from previous years. Dave Lourdes opened the event with an irreverent take on the conference theme, reminding attendees to apply a sceptical eye to managerial catch phrases. Dave has presented at previous Finance Conferences, most recently in 2012, and continues to be highly popular according to post conference surveys.
Other external speakers included: the new Auditor General, Andrew Greeves, Tom Muller from Water Aid, Graham Sewell from the University of Melbourne and Jono Brent from Christchurch electricity distribution business Connetics.
In addition to the external speakers, VicWater was fortunate to host two emerging leaders in the Victorian water industry: Dona Tantirimudalige from Yarra Valley Water and Sarah Thomson from Goulburn Valley Water, who discussed agility from vastly distinct organisational contexts and roles.
The Finance Conference always includes opportunities for government partners and associates to share relevant updates to water corporation finance managers, including: Roberta Skliros (VAGO) discussed the upcoming year-end audit process, Gordon Thomson (PwC) presented the new streamlined Puddle Account, which had been provided to water corporations a few days earlier, Dean Wickenton (ESC) provided an update on the pricing submission process, Michael Wheelahan (DELWP) discussed the implementation of Water for Victoria, and TCV’s Mark Tracey provided a financial market update.
Funky Bunch trivia made a return to the conference after a year off in 2016. Trivia continues to be very popular dinner entertainment and looks set to continue in alternate years.
VicWater thanks the Finance Conference sponsors for their generous support – Treasury Corporation of Victoria, TechnologyOne, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Vision Super, Wespac, Barwon Water…
The conference continues to provide a critical forum for learning, networking and collaboration for finance personnel from the Victorian water industry and its partners. We are now in planning stages for the location and venue of next year’s Finance Conference. Please stay tuned for further details< PreviousNext >
VicWater OH&S Seminar
On 16 and 17 May 2017 the VicWater OH&S Steering Group held a two day Seminar event at the Capital Theatre in Bendigo. The event was attended by 22 Victorian water corporation staff from 16 water corporations. The Keynote Address was from Alan Beacom of WorkSafe who shared with the participants the latest in WorkSafe initiatives, particularly around risks associated with elevated work platforms.
Con Mavrelis and Barry Coburn of City West Water outlined progress around the issues associated with gas strikes when working on water industry assets. Con and Barry also presented on electrical hazard management around water meter changeovers. There is now a Unit of Competency in the Water Training Package dealing with this activity and there was discussion about encouraging relevant Registered Training Organisations to deliver this training.
Other presentations included Peter Kesson of Goulburn Valley Water on the use of QR Code Re4aders and their applicability in an OH&S context and reports on the WSAA Fatal Risks Project.
Julie Atkinson of Coliban Water organised a site visit to the Epsom Reclamation Plant to look at OH&S risks associated with such a facility.< PreviousNext >
Director information sessions on Dam Safety
VicWater and DELWP recently provided a session developed by ANCOLD (Australian National Committee on Large Dams) on Dam Safety Risk Management for Directors and Senior Managers in three locations:
- Gippsland Water 9th March 2017
- Central Highlands Water 10th March 2017
- College of Surgeons 27 March 2017
The events were attended by 68 Victorian water corporation directors from 17 water corporations. The presentations were delivered by Shane McGrath, a well-known consultant in the dam safety space and Siraj Perera, a Senior Manager within DELWP and a member of the VicWater Dams Working Group.
The presentations covered the topics of Types of Dams and their Failure Modes, the recent Oroville Dam emergency in the USA, Obligations of Directors under Common Law, Dam Risk Management Principles and Dam Safety Governance.
Siraj Perera outlined the role of DELWP as the regulator for dam safety in Victoria including the ongoing role of the VicWater Dams Working Group which meets three times yearly and also provides a 2 day Seminar for dam managers and operators once per year.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Dams Seminar
The Annual VicWater 2 Day Dams Seminar was held at the Bendigo All Seasons Hotel on 28 February and 1 March 2017. The event was attended by 43 Victorian water corporation staff from 11 water corporations as well as a number of DELWP representatives. The event was sponsored by DELWP and organised by the VicWater Dams Steering Group, then chaired by Mark Arnold of Melbourne Water.
The Keynote Speaker was Graham Hawke of the Bureau of Meteorology, a person well-known in the Victorian water industry as a former senior manager at Southern Rural Water. Graham presented on the projections for rainfall in Victoria in the coming years and the possible effects on Victorian dam owners.
Other presentations included:
- Sunday Creek and Climate Change (Les Goudie – Goulburn Valley Water)
- Dam Operations and Drought (Mark Arnold and Bruce Rhodes – Melbourne Water)
- Heritage Works (Paul Balassone – Melbourne Water)
- Site Security around Dams (Andrew Martin North East Water)
- Managing Public Facilities (Luke Toffolon – Southern Rural Water)
- OH&S Issues at Boorondara Dam Intake Tower (Julien Schill – Gippsland Water)
- Bruce Duncan of Coliban Water organised a Field Visit to various Coliban Water assets which took place in the afternoon of 28 February.
Thanks to DELWP for again sponsoring this event and to all members of the Dams Steering Group who did an excellent organisational job.
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Clearwater - Workshop series - Bendigo | Port Fairy
Join colleagues from across your region to work with industry experts and explore the values and community needs specific to your area and the role of water in supporting your community.
What are the workshops about?
This workshop series is designed to bring together a diverse range of professionals from local government, water corporations and catchment management authorities to develop a shared understanding of community needs, and the role of water and collaborative planning to deliver greater community benefit. The role of water will be considered from a range of perspectives: vibrant centres, healthy communities, healthy environments, economic opportunity and climate resilience.
Who should attend?
Clearwater encourages professionals from a range of areas including community development, strategic and statutory planning, urban design, landscape architecture, stormwater management, waterway management and wastewater management (operation and maintenance).
- Esther Kay is a town planner with experience in water and environmental policy and will be speaking about creating ‘vibrant centres’.
- Dr Jeremy Cheesman is a Director at Marsden Jacobs and an experienced environmental and resource economist who will explore perspectives around ‘economic opportunity’.
- Chad Foulkes from Liminal by Design has worked at the forefront of community engagement and public health including working with WHO, and will talk about ‘healthy communities’.
- Dr Peter Breen from e2DesignLab will share perspectives on ‘healthy environments’ based on his diverse background in all aspects of the water sector.
- Rob Skinner from Monash Water Sensitive Cities at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, and will focus on ‘climate resilience and water security’.
The benefits of attending
- Contribute to a shared understanding of local values and community needs across your region.
- Discuss the potential to align strategies and resources; where investment decisions balance social, environment and economic dimensions.
- Enhance your appreciation of the context and priorities for different organisations and disciplines, and how they contribute to local community outcomes.
- Strengthen your regional networks.
Upcoming dates for 2017
- Bendigo (Coliban): Thursday 1 June
- Port Fairy (Wannon): Tuesday 20 June
These workshops will run between 8.30am – 1pm.
Morning tea and lunch will be provided.
How to register
To register please visit: www.clearwater.asn.au/events-and-training
- Charlotte Beresford, Regional Program Coordinator p: 9679 7390 e: email@example.com
- Maria Marziale, Project Officer p: 9679 7224 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Water you waiting for? Engage with your customers.
As a service provider in the water industry, we often talk about pipes and big holes in the ground. But, is that how our customers view us, or find value in the services we provide?
Too often, we forget that customers care about us because we share the same ideas and values, not because we have the latest and greatest infrastructure.
For Central Highlands Water, our customer base is a mix of city and rural residents, all with different needs and lifestyles, but there is one thing they all share, and that is a sense of community and a responsibility for future generations.
Each year, the Ballarat Begonia Festival allows us to connect up close and personal with our customers, allowing us to be part of the community. This year we focussed on the four legged members of many family’s – pets.
Animals obviously play a huge role in regional Victoria for work and play, so to connect with our customers on a personal level, i.e. their love of pets, we developed the Pets Choose Tap campaign.
The campaign was a spin-off of the well-known Be Smart Choose Tap initiative and focussed on pet health and wellbeing.
Our site at the event featured a full-scale rural lifestyle setting, complete with a house veranda, vegetable garden and an animal enclosure, which housed 95 hand-made animal sculptures by local students.
Across the three day event, our team members and celebrity guests spoke with people from all over the region about pet health, growing your own food and water efficiency.
We received over 6,000 entries in themed competitions and raised over $15,000 in water bottle sales for WaterAid.
Over the past few years, Central Highlands Water has raised over $50,000 for WaterAid.
We believe the annual event showcases that our people are part of the local community with a vested interest in everyday life and liveability – not just gauges and taps.
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Catchment Collaborations: Co-designing the next Healthy Waterways Strategy
Government, industry and community are being invited to shape the future of Melbourne’s rivers, estuaries and wetlands, as Melbourne Water begins engagement to development the next Healthy Waterways Strategy.
The strategy, covering the Port Phillip and Westernport region, guides investment and actions by Melbourne Water and other stakeholders to maintain and improve waterway health – and the social, economic and environmental benefits it supports.
While the new strategy will build on the values-based approach of the current one, Melbourne Water will be using a co-design process to develop the strategy.
“Our vision is to create a shared strategy that will be both developed and implemented collaboratively by government, industry and the community, which is necessary to respond to the complex challenges of climate change and a growing population,” Dr Robert Considine, Melbourne Water’s Manager, Water Services Planning.
“This collaborative approach also recognises the complexity of waterway management – where there are often competing interests – and allows us to incorporate learnings from the many organisations and individuals who are involved in caring for our waterways,” Dr Considine said.
The new strategy will incorporate the latest scientific knowledge and reflect community priorities, including a greater emphasis on social values such as recreation and social connectedness.
Key elements are being co-designed through a series of workshops for each catchment, where participants come together to co-define opportunities, co-create solutions and work towards co-delivering actions. Additionally, there are opportunities to participate online at yoursay.melbournewater.com.au, where people can view and comment on workshop discussions and outputs.
The new Healthy Waterways Strategy is expected to be finalised in late-2018. A co-design pilot for the Maribyrnong Catchment is currently underway, with sessions for the remaining catchments to begin from July 2017.
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‘Your Town’ Community Program passes 100 visits
Coliban Water’s Your Town community visits program is celebrating more than the 100 local visits since it was launched in 2013. The success of the program is evidenced by its visitor numbers reaching thousands of customers.
Your Town visits take place in towns across the Coliban Water region in spring and autumn. The 2017 program launched in Castlemaine on Tuesday 2 May.
Acting General Manager Customer Experience & Community Relations Kath Hansford said the idea of the program is to visit all 49 towns in the region to provide customers with an opportunity to talk to staff face-to-face about what matters to them.
“Your Town enables customers to discuss anything they want to about our services in person,” said Ms Hansford.
“During the visits we have all sorts of conversations our customers, we learn about their concerns and listen to their feedback and suggestions.
“Our communities have different needs and expectations in relation to their water and sewer services. Different aspects of our services are more important to some towns than others.
“Over the last three years, more than 1,000 customers have attended our visits and completed surveys that help us identify the key areas of interest that are important to them and their community.
“Following feedback we received on visits to Elmore and Lockington, we held customer forums in each town to discuss their sewer services.
“The information we gathered at the forums and through Your Town visits is being used to inform our Pricing Submission 2018.
“Our next pricing plan comes into effect on 1 July 2018 after going through a review by the Essential Services Commission, the water industry regulator,” said Ms Hansford.
The Coliban Water service region covers an area of 16,550 square kilometres. It extends from Cohuna and Echuca in the north, Kyneton and Trentham in the south, Boort, Wedderburn, Bealiba and Dunolly in the west, and Heathcote and Tooborac in the east.
“Our region covers a large part of North-Central Victoria and with our head office in Bendigo, many of our customers do not get the opportunity to talk face-to-face with our staff,” said Ms Hansford.
“It’s also important that our staff have an opportunity to visit our towns and connect with the communities we serve to understand our customers’ needs.
“Community groups can also request for us to visit their town or attend a local community meeting. We would also like to hear from customers on the kind of the information they would like when we visit,” said Ms Hansford.
For further information about the Your Town program and Pricing Submission 2018 visit www.coliban.com.au or call the Customer Support Team on 1300 363 200.< PreviousNext >
Leading Through Change and Challenge: It takes an environment for innovation - by Deborah Kiers
VicWater CEO Tony Wright recently wrote in Water Matters about the “rate and breadth of change” in Victoria’s water industry, including substantial leadership turnover. He rightly emphasized the importance of supporting water corporations, especially their MDs, as they face a myriad of challenges. To that end, I would like to address a capacity I consider critical right now for water sector leaders, particularly during disruptive times – something that may sound simple, but isn’t: Innovation.
Of course, we have seen tremendous innovations in the Australian water industry over the past decade. Indeed, my colleagues and I have worked with water utilities who we’ve seen generate brilliant new methods to combat drought, strengthen infrastructure, and create energy-smart technologies.
But it can’t stop. The urgent need for innovation can get lost in leadership churn. Yet innovation and sustainable performance are inextricably intertwined.
So: How do you create an environment for game-changing innovation? Although this may sound counter-intuitive, it doesn’t start with an ambition to innovate. It starts with something bigger: creating an environment where innovation can flourish. It’s about generating a culture of responsibility and high performance where innovation becomes almost inevitable.
For example, my colleagues and I worked with a large utility company in recent years as they produced an impressive string of innovations that earned national and international recognition – and more importantly, was part of a broader evolution of ingenuity within their sector.
They did this by creating an environment where new ways of thinking could flourish. They built a work culture where high performance would become the norm – then innovation became a hallmark of that new norm. Their leadership bucked the status quo, and the organization’s collective mindset was reframed in a way that would motivate people to take the organization far beyond what they thought was possible. Whether in the water sector or elsewhere, we consistently see that a culture which fosters innovation is one where a larger sense of purpose is motivating people.
But it’s not easy. Because even if people are highly motivated, their drive can become mitigated by fear of making mistakes. People must be willing to take risks and even fail – sometimes repeatedly. Consider that high-performer on your team: Why should she or he risk their status? But if that person is inspired to take a risk beyond the usual ‘drift’ of everyday thinking and operating, the door is wide open – yes, to potential failure; but also to ground-breaking innovation.
It begins with a strong leader taking a stand for something larger than themselves – an aspiration for the organisation that people literally can’t resist. We’ve seen it happen: It’s possible for a Managing Director and senior team to galvanize people at all levels of the organisation around a very ambitious strategy – which ultimately gives people license to step up and take risks not only in the name of the organisation, but also the future they’re fighting for. With that compelling motivation, they refuse to let anything get in their way.
Once you establish an environment that fosters innovation, you have a new status quo. The embedded capacity to innovate engenders sustainable agility. With this agility comes a new level of resilience, and an ability to pivot and adapt in the face of the unexpected – whether shifting market conditions, competitive challenges, or other possible threats to success.
The rewards can be unprecedented, as setbacks become turning points and failures fuel inventions that stick. People focus on what will happen when their idea works – not what will happen if it doesn’t. The shift begins with a commitment to a culture of responsibility and high performance; it grows with ongoing agility – and it can lead your organisation almost anywhere.
About the Author
International consultant Deborah Kiers of JMW has worked with global clients in industries including infrastructure, power and resources, health, and government. Her consulting with Boards, CEO’s and C-Level Teams has gained global award recognition based on client outcomes. Based in Melbourne, Australia, she holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University, where she won the Littauer Award for academic excellence and leadership.< PreviousNext >
Water corporations embrace gender diversity at inaugural Women in Water event
More than 150 women from across the water sector came together in Traralgon recently for the inaugural Women in Water event which acknowledged and embraced gender diversity within the industry.
Hosted by the five Gippsland-based water corporations including Gippsland Water, East Gippsland Water, Westernport Water, South Gippsland Water and Southern Rural Water, the initiative provided a networking and learning opportunity for women and celebrated the role women play in the sector.
Attending the event was Minister for Water Lisa Neville, who outlined the Labor Government’s plan to deliver a diverse and inclusive water sector, which included increasing the number of women on all water boards.
Minister Neville said, “It was a real privilege to be part of the first industry-combined Women in Water event and it’s inspirational to see the strength and diversity in our sector.”
“The event is also evidence of the industry’s work on ensuring that women are given the same opportunities as their male counterparts to be leaders in the water sector, as well as ensuring water corporations are reflective of the communities they serve,” she continued.
The event showcased a panel discussion and Q&A featuring key women leaders in the industry, an interactive presentation by author and Antarctic expedition leader Rachael Robertson, and a workshop facilitated by local communications consultant Leah Mether, who provided attendees with tools and techniques to reach their potential.
“It was a great opportunity for women within the sector to come together and have a sense of a support network in an open forum, and we’re delighted at the event’s success,” said Sarah Johnston, Manager People, Diversity and Inclusion at East Gippsland Water.< PreviousNext >
Women simply do not apply for the top jobs
Article written by Sharon Ardley, General Manager, Victoria for HR Consulting – Davidson
It is a confronting statement but the evidence is stark, “women simply aren’t applying for the senior level roles in the same numbers as men” says Sharon Ardley, Davidson’s General Manager in Victoria for HR Consulting. ‘Interestingly, when they do, they have a significantly greater chance of getting the job.’
According to the latest gender workplace statistics compiled by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women represent 15.4% of CEOs and 27.4% of key management positions in non-public businesses. Alarmingly, 25.1% of businesses that reported their gender statistics have no females in key management roles. All non-public sector businesses with 100+ employees are required to report.
In the public sector the data is only marginally better. Data from The State of the Public Sector in Victoria Report 2015-2016, reported 39% of executives in the public sector were women. At first glance this appears to be a good proportion, however, not when you take into account that 67% of the total Victorian public sector’s workforce are female. The numbers of females are there. They are just not progressing to executive levels.
For many women, putting themselves forward and backing their skills can be a key challenge for their career advancement. Women are not inherently wired to ‘self-promote’ says Ms Ardley. They need additional resources and encouragement to gain the confidence to succeed and step up.
What can be done to help women be better self-promoters?
To address the gender issues and equip women with the skills they need to excel, Ms Ardley and her team have developed the Davidson Leadership Acceleration Program (DLAP) to work with females at all levels to gain self-awareness and develop the mindset, skills and tools required to optimise leadership behaviour, achieve results and build transformational leadership.
The program is targeted at females in management and senior management who are looking to gain an insightful assessment of their capabilities and the confidence to take the next step in their leadership journey.
“We take a data led approach to analyse strengths and identify areas for development so participants come away from the program with an individual debrief of performance, development plan and personalised support” say Ms Ardley.
Through extensive work in the public sector, Davidson has identified a specific need in this area to work with females as they advance through their careers and into leadership roles.
“We also feel that it is important to shine a spotlight on exceptional female leaders who are in the Victorian Public Service, assisting them to progress their careers by highlighting their work and raising their profiles. To do this Davidson has launched the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) initiative. These women are role models for other females in the sector and play an active role in effecting change” Ms Ardley added.
Females in the Top 50 cohort will get the opportunity to receive one of six scholarship to the Davidson Leadership Acceleration Program. “We are exceptionally excited to offer these scholarships to six of the final Top 50 and make a significant contribution to their leadership development” said Ms Ardley.
Entries are now open and nominations can be submitted for the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria).
Entries close Monday June 12, 2017, for more information go to: www.publicsectorwomen.com.au.< PreviousNext >
Water Efficiency at the Heart of Collaboration
With ongoing pressures of population growth and climate change, there is a need to continue using water wisely and Victorians have developed a great culture of using water more efficiently. The recently released state government water plan, Water for Victoria, commits to reinvigorate water efficiency programs for Melbourne and regional Victoria to help communities better understand urban water challenges.
The Victorian urban water corporations have been collaborating with the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to develop a water efficiency work program for the reintroduction of Target 155 in Melbourne and the development of Target Your Water Use in regional Victoria. Target 155 and Target Your Water Use are voluntary water efficiency programs to encourage householders to use water responsibly.
Water corporations and DELWP met in February and agreed to develop a State-wide water efficiency strategy that will underpin water efficiency initiatives implemented by the urban water corporations across the State. This strategy is currently being developed by a sub-group representing the 17 water corporations and will be expected to be formalised by the end of this financial year. This is a great demonstration of collaboration happening across Victoria that will facilitate the development of common opportunities.
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It's owl about hoots at Bruce's Track
A specially designed nesting box has been installed at East Gippsland Water’s Bruce’s Track property near Swan Reach, which it is hoped will prove irresistible to an endangered species of owl.
The bird being targeted is the masked owl, in a joint bird conservation drive involving the water corporation and the Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network. This project has received funding support through the Victorian Government’s Threatened Species Protection Initiative.
Tom Crook, the network’s facilitator, said, “Masked owls live in forests and woodlands, including on the fringes of open farmland. Bruce’s Track has an identified population, so it makes sense to focus on this site and other known locations in East Gippsland in an effort to build up the owl’s numbers.
“Masked owls are identifiable by their white, heart-shaped face, or mask, surrounded by brown feathers. They’ll breed at any time of year, given favourable conditions such as a plentiful food supply.
“We’ve installed a special nesting box on a tall tree at Bruce’s Track, designed to simulate their preferred nesting environment. We have also attached a data logger to the tree to try and ascertain the ideal temperature for nesting to occur.”
East Gippsland Water’s Managing Director, Bruce Hammond, added, “We’re delighted to be able to support this very worthwhile conservation effort, which complements our commitment to safeguard the natural environment through our operations.”
East Gippsland Water is also working with the Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network on a project that it is hoped will see peregrine falcons nesting high up on the water tower in the centre of Bairnsdale – helping to reverse the bird’s declining numbers in the Gippsland region.
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Program Good for the Whole Irrigation Industry
IRRIGATORS have been the obvious benefactors from the Farm Water Program, led by the Goulburn Broken CMA, but there’s also been a positive flow-on effect for related industries.
Onleys, which specialises in survey and irrigation design, is an example of an off-farm, regional business which has grown on the back of the Farm Water Program (FWP).
Owner Tony Onley said a significant proportion of his company’s work was built around the design of whole farm plans, many of which were undertaken due to their requirement for the FWP.
“A third of our business is based on whole farm plans as well as irrigation and drainage design for improving irrigation methods,” Mr Onley said.
He said he hired several designers and other staff members to accommodate the requirements of the program.
“From an employment perspective there has been a boost and the funds have stayed in the region.Whether its Padman Stops, Rob Rye Irrigation Piping or Hogan Excavations, the program has certainly been great for local industries associated with irrigation.”
Mr Onley said the program was like manna from heaven for irrigation-related businesses when it was launched in 2010.
“Going back four or five years, it was a fairly sad sort of scenario because a lot of the area was in drought, so when the program was introduced it was great for suppliers and contractors around the area.”
He said the program’s investment was now bearing fruit right across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.
“You can drive around the district and see where people have upgraded their systems. It’s brought forward a lot of work and improved the irrigation practices of a lot of people who’ve participated in it.”
Mr Onley said separate to the spin-off benefits for his business, he was a supporter of the program’s ideals.
“It has great merit, especially when done in conjunction with Goulburn Murray Water’s connections project. The trade-off has been the water loss from the region but it has certainly accelerated upgrades on farms. There’s no doubt about that. If there was a way it could continue and didn’t require the relinquishment of water, then that would be the ultimate because it allows for the improvement of the farms while still maintaining the water.”
The Farm Water Program, delivered by a consortium led by the Goulburn Broken CMA, has now funded over 600 individual irrigator projects worth over $160 million over five rounds. The consortium includes North Central CMA, North East CMA, Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Goulburn Murray Water, Dairy Australia, Murray Dairy and Northern Victorian Irrigators.< PreviousNext >
Victorian water sector takes further steps to Reconciliation
Yarra Valley Water, the largest metropolitan Melbourne retail water utility, recently launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The RAP, which has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, symbolises a commitment to reconciliation will be incorporated into the way Yarra Valley Water provides its services to customers, its relationship with the environment and its role within the community.
Yarra Valley Water’s Reconciliation Action Plan supports the State Government’s Water for Victoria framework, which sets out key actions for the water sector. These include recognising Aboriginal values and objectives of water and including Aboriginal values and traditional ecological knowledge in water planning.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville said “Supporting Aboriginal values is a key element of Water for Victoria and it’s great to see Yarra Valley Water taking real action that will create change.”
Pat McCafferty, Managing Director, Yarra Valley Water added that we share a deep common interest with Aboriginal communities to preserve and protect water for future generations.
“Water is fundamental to our communities to support a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and thriving communities now and into the future. The Reconciliation Action Plan we are launching today provides a strong foundation to build upon relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in our work added Mr McCafferty”.
To find out more about the work being done by Yarra Valley Water, or to download a copy of the Reconciliation Action Plan visit www.yvw.com.au.< PreviousNext >
Solar project contract awarded
Barwon Water’s first solar energy project is a step closer with a contract for its design and construction awarded to Beon Energy Solutions.
The array of 2,880 panels at Barwon Water’s Black Rock environmental precinct will feed renewable energy directly to the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant – the corporation’s largest energy using site.
At a rated capacity of 1,000 kilowatts (1 megawatt), the project will generate around 1,300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is enough to power about 300 homes, and save around 1500 tonnes of carbon emissions. The project will initially save more than $130,000 in yearly operating costs and will increase if grid electricity prices rise.
With completion expected by December, it is likely to be the first megawatt-scale solar farm to operate in southern Victoria.
Barwon Water Chairman Jo Plummer said the project was part of a program to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2025.
“Electricity use is responsible for 81 per cent of Barwon Water’s carbon emissions profile and represents the best opportunity to achieve significant savings,” Ms Plummer said.
“Investing in on-site solar will directly reduce Barwon Water’s use of grid electricity and associated carbon emissions and increase renewable generation,” she said.
“With a payback period of 11 years, we see the project as a solid investment for the future, both in terms of an ongoing reduction in operating costs and increased environmental benefits.”
The 1 megawatt solar array will achieve a 5 per cent reduction in Barwon Water’s electricity-related emissions. Overall, it will mean 13 per cent of Black Rock water reclamation plant’s electricity is produced from a renewable source. Future renewable energy investments will see this progressively climb toward 100 per cent by 2025.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville commended Barwon Water on the project.
“Water for Victoria sets out a range of climate mitigation strategies for water utilities to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and it’s great to see Barwon Water getting on with it. Projects like this help us reduce our emissions and are an example of the practical measures we are delivering to help tackle climate change,” Minister Neville said.
Glen Thomson, General Manager of Beon Energy Solutions said he’s excited by the opportunity to work with Barwon Water.
“This is an organisation leading the way in the water industry with their application of renewable energy solutions to support their operations. The Black Rock project is a real and tangible demonstration of their well thought out strategy to achieve their 100 per cent renewables target, and at Beon we’re grateful for the opportunity to play such an important part in helping them achieve it.
“As an energy solutions provider with a reputation for delivering the right outcomes for customers we’re pleased to be supporting Barwon Water to find the right solutions for their needs.”
Barwon Water also operates a wind turbine at Breamlea that supplies energy to the Victorian power grid. Maintenance works were completed last week and the turbine resumed generating energy on Friday.
The turbine is the longest operating in Victoria and was originally installed as a demonstration unit by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and the Victorian Solar Energy Council (now Sustainability Victoria) in November, 1987. Barwon Water purchased the turbine in 2003 and restored it into service in early 2004.
Click here to view an imagined fly over video of the installation.< PreviousNext >
Super changes you need to know in 2017
On 1 July 2017, the government’s super changes will come into effect. Some of the major changes that may affect you include:
- New contribution caps that will limit the amount you can contribute to super from your before tax and after tax salary.
- A concessional tax on investment earnings will apply to transition to retirement accounts – such as the Vision Non-commutable Allocated Pension.
- A new $1.6 million transfer balance cap will limit the savings you can transfer to retirement phase account, such a Vision Allocated Pension.
For full details on the super changes, read our fact sheet at www.visionsuper.com.au/super-changes.
If you would like more information about any of the changes, or to arrange an appointment with one of our financial planners, please contact our friendly Member Services team on 1300 300 820 or email email@example.com.< PreviousNext >
TechnologyOne - GWMWater case study
Click here to learn about a TechnologyOne led project for GWMWater that provided benefits to 72,000 GWMWater customers covering a land area of 62,000 square kilometers. This project saw multiple best of breed systems replaced with one enterprise solution that provided efficiencies for 180 GWMWater staff and removed business silos.< PreviousNext >
Luke zones in for the para-badminton international in Thailand
East Gippsland Water’s Luke Missen has his racquet at the ready to compete in the Thailand Para-Badminton International in Bangkok at the end of the month.
Twenty-four year old Luke, a technical officer with the water corporation, lives in Denison near Heyfield. He took up badminton less than three years ago, but can already claim two national titles under his belt and competing for Australia in the most recent Para-Badminton World Championships, held in England.
Later this year he is set to represent Australia at the World Dwarf Games in Guelph near Toronto, not just for para-badminton, but also basketball.
He attributes his success in part to his background playing tennis, which he says has provided him with good hand-eye coordination. Ultimately he has his sights set on representing Australia at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
Luke, who will be competing in the short stature class at the Thailand Para-Badminton International, said, “It’s exciting to have another chance to compete internationally, considering the sport of para-badminton is still in its infancy in Australia. It’ll be good to see how I have improved and where I stand compared to the rest of my opponents since England 2015.”
East Gippsland Water’s Managing Director, Bruce Hammond, said that the corporation’s staff are very proud of Luke’s achievements to date, adding, “We all wish Luke every success in Thailand and later in the year in Toronto. It’s great to see his natural sports talent, courage and determination reaping just rewards on the world stage.”
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