Announcing the winner of the Chris Davis AM Fellowship for 2023
The Chris Davis AM Fellowship is to be awarded to an individual that is leading a project, initiative or research activity that will contribute to sustainable water management in Australia.
With National Water Week in full swing inspiring individuals, schools and organisations to promote the importance of water, we are happy to announce that Catherine Vero has been chosen for the Chris Davis AM Fellowship.
We caught up with Catherine who was thrilled and ecstatic to win the Fellowship for her proposed project on researching water quality in remote community towns.
Tell us about yourself
I live in Alice Springs and have done for nearly 14 years. I love living here because of the environment, the community and the work. When I moved in 2010 I didn’t think about how long I would stay but I’m happily surprised I’ve been here for nearly 14 years. Outside of work you can find me gardening at the community garden (yes they have put me in charge of irrigation!), singing every Sunday with my singing group or getting out camping or hiking in beautiful Central Australia.
What prompted you to enter the Fellowship?
I’ve been advocating for improvement to the way water safety and security is supported in First Nations homelands which are small communities of say 10 to 100 people. There are about 1200 across Australia and conditions on many are very poor. I’ve seen water quality issues that would make city folks hair stand on end in alarm. I know a lot about supporting small communities to have safe water but there is always more to know. I thought the fellowship would be a good prompt to go and do a bit of research in a particular area to improve my knowledge and come back and share my findings with others. I also thought it would be an opportunity to support my advocacy work. Having a fellowship like this can amplify your voice and given this is a social justice project I’m working on, that is no bad thing.
How long have you been working in water?
I graduated with a chemical engineering degree in 2002 and didn’t want to do anything else but work in the water industry. There weren’t a lot of jobs around in the water industry for graduates then but I persevered and got my first job west of Sydney running membrane pilot plants for water and wastewater. It was such an interesting job and really cemented my love of water treatment.
What will you do with the Fellowship?
I’ll select some homelands which have a good level of support and are successfully running water systems and interview them. I want to draw together the common threads of what happens when things are working well.
What inspires you to continue working in the water sector?
I love a challenge! I work as a consultant on remote area water treatment and biosolids in bigger centres and they are both challenging areas and my strategy brain loves to work through these complex issues. As to what inspires me, I am passionate about justice for our environment and for people and I see such opportunity for improving aspects of both through working in the water industry. Who wouldn’t want to be paid to make the world a better place – water industry people have the best jobs.
What advice do you have for water professionals looking to win the next Fellowship in 2024?
Well I’m not too sure what the committee liked about my application but I looked for a project that I was passionate about, that wouldn’t be funded any other way, fit well with the theme of sustainable water management and aligns with the values that Chris held. Many people would have put in projects like this so perhaps being really passionate about my project and about water at work and in my community really shone through. Oh and get a friend to be your cheerleader, I was lucky enough to have my friend Skye who won NT young water professional of the year last week encourage me and that can make all the difference.