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An end of year message from SA Chair Elsie Mann

It really is true that change is the only constant in life. We were so fortunate to be able to hold our Branch Awards night at the beginning of November. We were also very lucky to have a visit from AWA’s CEO, Corinne Cheeseman, to coincide with the event. It was great to finally meet in real life and have the time to discuss AWA’s strategy, Corinne’s vision and plans for the Association, and how we can work together to bring our South Australian perspectives and experience to deliver on this vision.

A large part of what we do at a Branch level is underpinned by AWA’s core objectives to Share, Connect and Inspire, and I think it was clear that we were able to deliver on all three of these objectives through our Awards Gala Dinner. A big thank you to the organising committee and AWA staff for their efforts in getting the show on the road. All the finalists who were highlighted have delivered projects which show commitment to sustainable water management. They demonstrate forward thinking and investment in building resilience, encouraging, and inspiring the next generation, and finding new ways to leverage technology. I was particularly inspired by the way so many of the projects were able to provide tangible opportunities to connect with the value of water in our lives and in the environment, with opportunities for cultural exchange and appreciation of indigenous knowledge and experience.

As we hurtle towards the holidays, there is no doubt that 2020 has been a big year. We’ve all had to deal with a lack of certainty in almost all areas of our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this surprisingly draining. In this light, I would like to take the opportunity to thank our local Branch committee. I have really appreciated how each of our committee members have continued to remain engaged through this year, despite everything else we have had to deal with. I really appreciate the initiative that people have taken and the effort you all make to contribute your ideas and time. This year we’ve successfully delivered a number events, including a re-cast of our planned tour of the Adelaide Desalination plant in a webinar format, a discussion of the ACCC inquiry into water markets, and a number of online Sundowners organised by our YWPs, and of course the Awards Gala Dinner. We continue to plan for our rescheduled Ministers breakfast event in February 2021, and, all going well, more face-to-face events in the New Year.

We are sad to have farewelled our Branch Manager, Shirley Fraser, but wish her all the best in her exciting new role. Shirley joined AWA just as we were all heading into lock down back in March and has supported us through the most unusual time I’ve experienced since I started volunteering with AWA in 2014. Our Branch will sincerely miss Shirley’s presence; a testament to the impact she has had in a short time. We particularly appreciated Shirley’s investment in connecting with our members, and her positive attitude has been such an asset to our Branch. We are in the middle of recruiting for a new local AWA team member who will fill a new role of Member Engagement Manager – in line with a refreshed operating model for the Association.

I’m all for finding silver linings, and reflecting on 2020, here are some positives I am taking from this year. I think we’ve learned to live in the moment and appreciate what we have close to home. We have shifted our thinking to how we can be more self-sufficient. We have also had opportunity to reflect on our relative positions of privilege and consider what can be done to break down barriers created by our socio-political systems and reinforced through our personal biases.  I think the year has taught us to be more humble and compassionate. We have seen into the lives of people we work with in a completely different way. We’ve been forced to adapt and in doing so, we have found unexpected benefits in remote working and digital connection.

I have no idea how 2021 will play out, but rest assured we will be doing our best to ensure we continue to provide value to our members and opportunities for connection, learning, developing, and celebrating. As always, I encourage you to get in touch if you have any ideas of how we can support you.

I hope all our members get some time to rest a recharge over the holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.