A WORD FROM THE CEO

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June 2024

As we approach the end of financial year, it’s an opportune time to reflect on the past 12 months at VicWater and how we’ve been working to support our members and the broader water and catchment management sector.

Here are a few of my personal highlights:

  • Carbon offsets project – as regular readers of our monthly update will know, for more than two years we have been running this highly complex project to bring our members together in a collective approach to the carbon offsets market, to help meet their net zero targets. This month we take an important step forward by issuing an EOI to the market on behalf of 15 water corporations.
  • Water Industry Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2024-2028 – led by VicWater’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, this second whole-of-industry strategy demonstrates the sector’s genuine and ongoing commitment to growing a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace culture, which is reflective of the communities in which we work and live.
  • Water Minister’s Climate Innovation Challenge – delivered through VicWater’s IWN program, Challenge Round One in 2023 provided catalytic funding for four projects that will explore innovative solutions to climate change challenges. We’re looking forward to running Challenge Round Two this year with an increased prize pool.
  • Annual Conference 2023 and Director Development Forum 2024 – The VicWater team enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with our members in person at these two very successful events, which brought together board members and senior leaders from water corporations and CMAs for professional development and peer networking.
  •  Industry partnerships – we continue to build productive relationships with our fellow industry associations at state and national level – IWA, Vic Catchments, WIOA, WSAA, AWA, NSW and QLD Water Directorates – sharing knowledge, supporting each other’s initiatives, avoiding duplication and ensuring we deliver value for our shared and respective members.

Looking ahead, the next big thing on the horizon for VicWater is our Annual Conference in September. This year’s theme is ‘Environmental stewardship: Caring for Country and advancing sustainability in the Victorian water sector’ and we’re excited to have internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist Professor Tim Flannery confirmed as our Day One keynote speaker. Registrations are now open – see item below for more information.

VICWATER UPDATE

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.

If you are not receiving your email copy, you can subscribe for the next available issue.

Would you like to contribute an article? Contact Lauren on lauren.vines@vicwater.org.au

MAY 2024

It was great to see the Victorian water sector well represented at Ozwater 24 in Melbourne last week, among a record attendance of 1,800 delegates. With three days of multi-streamed conference sessions and a massive trade exhibition, there was truly something for everyone.

One of my key takeaways – and yes I know it will sound parochial! –  is that the Victorian water sector is at the forefront of efforts to tackle the big challenges of our time. I was pleased to be a panel speaker at a session organised by Aurecon on the use of carbon credits in the water sector. Discussion in the room indicated that Victorian water corporations are comparatively well advanced on the pathway to net zero, in taking focused actions to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions combined with a considered approach to the appropriate use of carbon offsets.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to participate in Ozwater’s Young Water Professionals program, in a session aimed at building communications and influencing skills around complex issues like climate change. Delegates worked in groups to brainstorm their approach and then deliver a 2 minute ‘elevator pitch’. The intelligence and enthusiasm of the young professionals in the room was inspiring, and I left the session feeling confident that the future of our industry is in good hands.

Another feel-good experience at Ozwater was the WaterAid breakfast and the chance to hear about their work to improve access to water and sanitation services in Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. The breakfast was also the official launch of Walk for Water 2024, and while we probably won’t make the fundraising leaderboard (topped last year by Yarra Valley Water), I know the VicWater team are keen to fire up the Fitbit on 30 September and help support this worthwhile cause – check out the WaterAid website for more information.

APRIL 2024

At the end of last year, VicWater took over management of the Insight Executive Leadership for Women in Water program, with funding support from DEECA and ongoing sponsorship from the Hon Harriet Shing, Minister for Water.

Last week we were delighted to host a welcome dinner for the 2024 Insight cohort of 13 current and emerging women executives from across the Victorian water sector – including VicWater’s own Tara Daniel.

The dinner was attended by Minister Shing, who reminded us that all too often, the natural inclination of many women is to downplay their abilities and recede into the background. She encouraged the Insight participants to step forward proudly, embrace their leadership ambitions and remember that they are already a role model for other aspiring women leaders.

The Insight program was launched in 2019 to deliver on the commitment in Water for Victoria to promote gender equity in the water sector. Over the two rounds that have been run to date, the program has evolved into a truly transformative experience not just for the participants but also for their organisations and the sector as a whole, as it builds a strong female leadership network and pipeline into top executive roles.

Congratulations to all the 2024 Insight participants, and I look forward to hearing about their experiences at the end of the 12 month program.

L to R: Kristen McCaskill, Eileen Curtis, Teresa Ayles, Clare Gibson, Karen Lau, Anna Lamont, Minister Shing, Emma Youill, Lisa Anelli, Nardia Sheriff, Katie Zeller, Tara Daniel, Anna Murray, Philippa O’Sullivan

This month’s VicWater Update includes some great news items which really showcase the breadth of activity and achievement across the Victorian water sector. We are always looking for opportunities to promote the interesting and exciting things our members are doing – if you would like to share any newsworthy announcements or stories, please contact our Engagement Manager Lauren Vines – lauren.vines@vicwater.org.au.

MARCH 2024

Last month VicWater partnered with Vic Catchments and DEECA to deliver the 2024 Director Development Forum, a biennial event that brings together all water corporation and CMA non-executive directors following new board appointments in the previous year.

The two days featured keynote presentations and panel discussions on a range of topics including public sector governance, ‘Water 101’, cyber risk management, psychosocial workplace safety, transition to net zero, emergency management and Traditional Owner self-determination.

Directors heard from external and industry speakers who aimed to raise awareness and understanding of some of the important issues and challenges that water sector boards need to keep abreast of as part of their governance and leadership role.

For me, one of the program highlights was guest speaker Anders Sorman-Nilsson, a global futurist who talked about current and emerging technological trends, especially the increasingly pervasive  use of artificial intelligence (AI) in all aspects of our lives. According to Anders, within the next 12 months approximately 90% of content on the Internet will be generated by AI.

I will put my hand up to using ChatGPT from time to time (not to write this column I swear!), but I do wonder about what this means for the future of human creativity and invention.

Another one of Anders’ observations resonated with me and many of the people I spoke to afterwards:

“The pace of change has never been faster – and will never be this slow again.”

Something for us to ponder, as we face into an increasingly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) future.

But I certainly wouldn’t want to give the impression that it was all doom and gloom at the Director Development Forum! The event was a great opportunity for directors to make new connections and build their peer network, contributing to a sense of belonging and inclusiveness in the Victorian water sector.

It was also the result of the highly productive and collaborative partnership between VicWater and Vic Catchments for the benefit of our respective members, with valued support from DEECA.

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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