JUNE 2024

Roughly twelve months ago, conversations commenced between DEECA and VicWater about the potential to run a sector wide cyber security exercise and late last year we engaged Cythera to help wrangle this together. On Tuesday (4/6/24) all the planning, workshopping and discussions came to fruition with an in-person event held at Melbourne Water, which was expertly facilitated by Craig Joyce from Cythera. The day was set up as two x two-hour discussion exercises, one looking at a major outage of our productivity suites and the other an interruption to our wastewater networks. The highlight for me was at each inject point, DGS and DEECA were invited to explain what would be happening in their control rooms during these periods. For me this completed the whole picture and provided clarity on some of the questions and activities that they undertake in an emergency scenario. It was also great to be able to align the activities with the newly released State Emergency Management Plan – Cyber Sub-Plan.

It was also great to meet many people in 3D for the first time with over 60 people in attendance. We had an excellent mix of technical IT and OT subject matter experts, Emergency Management experts and executives from the 18 water corporations participating, as well as representation from DEECA, DGS and the Department of Home Affairs. This meant that the conversations were robust and meaningful with all participants taking away something new or something to consider further.

It would be remis to talk about the exercise without thanking the key people involved in making this happen. It takes a lot of work, and it certainly would not have happened without the guidance of Craig Joyce at Cythera. It made the experience a lot more manageable and less stressful than it probably could have been.

In addition to his experience and resilience I would like to thank:

  • The project team of Richard Marshall from Goulburn Murray Water, Vaughn Brandenberg from the Metro Water Corporations (MW, YVW, SEW, GWW), Nick Madden and Pradeepa Adihetty from DEECA. As well as Andrew Marshall and Barry Smith from Goulburn Valley Water for helping to shape the scenarios.
  • Rob Considine and Dawn Hertog from DEECA and Rohan Davies from DGS for their guidance and participation on the day around their roles and responsibilities.
  • The Cythera team who expertly facilitated the day including Craig Joyce, Joh McPhee, Ben Cuthbert, Jarrod Loidl, Mark Terrill and Alistair Longley. As well as EJ Wise from Wise Law
  • Richard Morris and the reception team from Melbourne Water for hosting us on the day.

It was a really excellent day and I have been asked if it will be run again….the answer is….maybe? Let’s wait until I am over this one before committing!


The VicWater Update is a monthly publication developed to ensure the sector is kept updated on the projects we are undertaking on their behalf. It provides a platform to promote visibility of things that are happening within the water sector including water sector events and announcements.

During the first week of each month, a condensed version of the newsletter is emailed to registered subscribers. Articles are also posted in the News area of our website.

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MAY 2024

I was fortunate to attend the annual OzWater conference last week in Melbourne, along with a high contingent of the Victorian water sector, given the hometown advantage. I thought I would share a couple of the key highlights from my week:

  •  Shae Abel talking about Melbourne Water’s belonging framework and then hearing from Naveen Maram and Andrew Mellor about their experiences with it.  This is an incredible piece of work that really gets to the heart of why we support equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives so that all employees in the Victorian water sector feel a sense of belonging to ensure that they thrive.
  • Seeing WaterAble Leadership Program graduate, Sylvia Campbell’s big idea for a panel session around  ‘Build it and they will come’. This was a wonderful initiative sharing how organisations can support people with a disability from the application process through to career progression. I really love seeing WaterAble challenge us to think differently about inclusion as it benefits all of us to have diversity in the room.
  • Chris Philpot from the Water Conservancy presenting on benchmarking for non-residential water. VicWater has been working with the Water Conservancy to develop and run a water efficiency workshop for our members on the 16th May 2024, which will include non-residential water use, residential behaviour change, and educational initiatives. It has been great working with Chris on this and I am excited to see some of the ideas and outcomes from this session.

I really enjoy going to these national conferences as it is great to catch up with people I haven’t seen for years. It always makes me appreciate the collaborative nature of our sector for  ‘Accelerating Action’ against our common goals. Well done to all involved for a fantastic event!

APRIL 2024

Earlier this year, Central Highlands Water (CHW) got in touch, to ask if Jo or I would be willing to have a chat to their four female trainees. Of course we jumped at the chance and before we knew it, Jo and I were on a train hurtling towards Ballarat for a really quite excellent day. I started my career working in Operations and a benefit of getting older is seeing how the culture has shifted to make operations a great place for females to work and also the evolution of programs and opportunities to encourage females to enter the area. Our day consisted of a site tour and morning tea at Ballarat South Waste Treatment Plant (BSWWTP), courtesy of the trainees (Lilian, Lourdes, Tania and Tanika). Lilian showed us around and shared her knowledge of the processes and also reminded us of how much there is to know!

From the BSWWTP we went on a driving tour of some of the larger reservoirs of the area, I cannot verify if we were lost or not, but we made it to the CHW head office in time for lunch and a (not long enough) session with the executives. It was great to spend some time with them and spend a little bit of time discussing our priorities and things that are keeping us busy, which is a lot!

After lunch, Jo and I were ‘interviewed’ about our experiences and covered topics such as self-care, our career journeys and backgrounds, and our motivations. It is always a bit daunting talking about yourself but hopefully some pearls of wisdom were shared! It was also nice to have some friendly faces from my past life from water quality in the crowd.

The trainee program happened organically with a single trainee position being advertised and growing to four. The interview process sounded to be more experiential and a lot more fun than a traditional interview, and the four females that have come were an unintended, but positive outcome of the process with all four trainees planning to stay long term at CHW. I would like to give a massive kudos to Kim Pappaluca and the CHW team for this program, it is exceptional and it is fantastic to see more women in operations and the cultural shift to see it succeed.

Thank you to Lilian, Lourdes, Tania, Tanika, and the whole CHW team for having us. I would also like to say a very special thank you to Kim for putting the day together, being our chauffeur and showing us to the best coffee place in Ballarat. Jo and I had a great day and would love to come back!

L – R: Kim Pappaluca, Jo and Tara

L – R: Tanika, Tara, Lourdes, Jo, Tania and Lilian

MARCH 2024

International Women’s Day 2024

8 March marks International Women’s Day, which is an annual event to raise awareness and celebrate progress of the women’s rights movement. As a sector, we are fortunate to have unified commitment to gender equity, and there are a number of different programs that exist to support women to succeed.

In 2019 VicWater released the first water industry Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2023, which has had an annual performance report produced each year. The final report under the current Strategy is due to be released in March 2024 and has comparative year on year data from the five years of the Strategy. The gender results show progress in senior roles but it is important to note that due to the size of these teams, even a single change can impact the data.

Programs such as the Insight: Executive Leadership for Women in Water Program are important in elevating women into leadership roles through self development and learning from other women in the sector and helping them to building connections with other women at similar points in their careers. To date this program has been run twice and the third cohort is due to commence at the end of March, of which I am hugely excited to be a part of.

At a board level, the Women in Water Directors Network (WWDN) provide a place and space for women directors of water corporations and CMAs to network, collaborate, mentor and support each other. Since it was established in 2018, the network has expanded to include all directors to champion gender equity. In 2024 the WWDN will be running a ‘Next Generation’ program for women at the executive and board level, and aims to build relationships across the sector based on respect and mutual benefit. Expressions of interest for this program will open in March.

Finally, it would be remiss of me to not mention the huge amount of work that has been completed by our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) subject matter experts over the last few months to complete progress reports against their organisations Gender Equality Action Plans.

Under the Gender Equality Act, they are required to report every two years and this was the first progress report. This was a huge undertaking and I congratulate all who were involved in the process for completing it.

More broadly, we should be grateful that we work in a sector that is committed to putting in place structures and supporting programs to support a diverse, informed and engaged water sector that embodies a sense of pride and inclusiveness.

Caption for this table for context.
VicWater proudly acknowledge the Traditional Owners and true Custodians of the land and waters where we live and work. We pay our upmost respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
At VicWater we are also proud to celebrate, value and include people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, cultures and abilities.
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