WA Annual Water Industry Breakfast: Diversity & Innovation - A Panel Discussion

9 June 2016, Perth

The Western Australian (WA) Branch of the Australian Water Association (AWA) hosted its annual water industry breakfast event on 9 June with a panel discussion on Diversity and Innovation.

The Hon Minister Mia Davies, WA’s Chief Scientist Mr. Peter Klinken, Research Fellow and PhD candidate at Curtin University Ms. Jemma Green and Lead Risk Advisory Partner for Deloitte Mr. Richard Thomas in WA formed the panel discussion facilitated by the AWA CEO, Mr. Jonathan McKeown.

In the welcoming address, AWA WA Branch President Ms. Deanne McDonald set the scene that was echoed throughout the event: how to incorporate our diverse professional experiences in the water sector, and the innovative possibilities it provides to meet our communities future water needs. Ms McDonald acknowledged the fact that innovation can be risky, however we must find ways to embrace calculated risks whilst learning from less desirable outcomes.

Each of the panellists shared their personal experiences on diversity and how these related to their professional experiences.They further emphasised the importance of diversity in developing a creative workplace and the positive outcomes that a diverse workforce brings to organisations. After setting the scene, it was an easy flow to the topic of innovation when we heard about the Department of Water’s Innovation Advisory Group and some insights on the Western Australia’s five key areas in science excellence. Needless to say that water underpins them all. Members of the audience were invited to contribute their thoughts on the topic. It lead to a range of views being vocalised and an even broader understanding and consideration of the relationship between innovation and diversity

The take home message of the event can be summarised in three points:

  • Diversity brings broad, rich experiences to the workplace, and contributes to better decision making and higher performance
  • Respect for the things that makes us different is pivotal for an inclusive diverse workforce
  • WA is a hub of creativity, where there's a buzz of excitement and enthusiasm and a whole bunch of ideas are coming out

It was great to hear an open and honest discussion about such important topics which affect all industries. And better still, the reassurance of how well prepared the WA’s water sector is. Many thanks to Herbert Smith Freehills for sponsoring the event.

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