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An update from AWA Queensland Branch President Nicole Davis

Another couple of months have passed in the new world order of COVID-19. While I am certainly sick of reading about COVID-19 and checking the tallies every day, it really is a situation that is constantly changing.

The on again/off again moving feast of gatherings and the daily “rule” changes. Yes, Queensland is in a better situation than Victoria and particularly Melbourne, but it is obvious that we are all dependant on the honesty system and people doing the right thing.

I still believe there have been positive outcomes of COVID-19, for example the increase in engagement that has been enabled by webinars and on-line meetings. The Women in Water event on 27 August really demonstrated the power of extending our reach – we had a participant from Sydney attend and this would not have been possible if we were meeting face-to-face.

Additionally, the way we work has changed forever. The water industry is usually very traditional and conservative but we have shattered the belief that “working from home” is not effective. In my organisation, the CEO has indicated we need to stop using that terminology and has introduced the term “distributed working arrangements”. This slight change in terminology (it’s all about the words) has been very effective in de-stigmatising the whole working from home theories. On a personal level, it has been very beneficial to me as I am still doing some fly in:fly out between Redland and Mackay. It has allowed me to work remotely including back at the MRC office, where I can continue to collaborate with the team there.

The Queensland Branch committee is also looking at ways to maximise the opportunities to engage and communicate with our members that these changes in delivery mode have opened up. Some organisations recently “hosted” the 2020 AWA Awards Launch in July. This was a great opportunity to do a blended approach of some face-to-face networking afterwards and the webinar. It was all done under COVID-safe plans and numbers but it was an excellent trial. Thanks to those members who hosted – Logan and Townsville City Councils and Bundaberg and Mackay Regional Councils. It was so successful, that there may be opportunities to undertake these style forums in the future; stay posted.

A reminder too for the Queensland Conference in November. This conference combines three events into one; North Queensland Regional conference, QWater conference and the AWA Queensland Awards dinner. There is a COVID-safe plan in place and due to COVID-19, numbers have been limited to 180 delegates for the conference and 120 for the dinner so you will need to get in quick. There are over 56 abstracts for the two-stream conference. In keeping with extending our reach, AWA will make the conference available on-demand for our regional members, and build on the success of Ozwater. This will allow a number of different options for attending and viewing.

I’m really excited about the conference in November and I hope to see you there.