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Sharing insights and learnings at the AWA VIC Regional Young Water Professionals/ Intelligent Water Network Conference

The joint AWA Regional Young Water Professionals/ Intelligent Water Network (IWN) Conference was held on 12 March 2021 in Sunbury. Over 75 water professionals gathered to share insights and learnings on the Role of Water in a Climate Resilient Future.

It was great to see so many people gathered together to learn from experiences across the industry.  The day offered real insights into resilience in the water industry, with presentations on circular economy and COVID economic recovery and learnings from Fishermans Bend.

The event was held both in person and online, which is itself is an ode to resilience!

Highlights from the day included:

  • Simon Roberts, Young Water Professional of the Year presented with Dr Paul Satur (Our Future Cities) on What is Required to Create a More Inclusive and Liveable Future.
  • Andrew Chapman (ANZ Water Sensitive Cities Lead, Aurecon) gave an engaging presentation explaining his belief that in the water industry Imagination is the constraint and not technology. Andrew Chapmans’ key advice for how to engage your imagination are: challenge assumptions, understand the problem and look to other industries.
  • Graeme McKenna (Dial Before you Dig, Manager Members and Partners) gave a presentation on the importance of the Dial before you Dig services, and how Covid has helped accelerate their digital service offering with an online mapping platform called DBYD Automate.
  • DELWP and Shirley Reeder from Brave Consulting delivered a dynamic workshop on the Circular economy, which saw many ideas being generated.
  • John Day (Executive Manager of Operations, North East Water), Maree Lang (MD City West Water), Laurie Curran (MD Laurie Curran Water), Livia Bonazzi (GM of Strategy & Innovation, Western Water) Zoe Hines (Business Resilience Specialist, South East Water) delivered a robust panel discussion on the impacts and challenges of water resilience. One of the key notes themes was preparing your business to be resilient (to specific issues) and training your staff will ultimately help your business to resilient to any issues which may arise even if it’s not what you had been preparing for.
  • Luke Cunningham and Rianda Mills (Rain Consulting), discussed How to ‘Flood’ your Audience with Useful Visuals. The presentation encouraged everyone to consider the concept of ‘Art vs Science’ when creating maps, graphs and other visuals. One of the key takeaways was to take time to play with the data, which can lead to learning how to best present your data in interesting and easy to understand ways.
  • Dean Barnett (Intelligent Water Networks Program Director) provided an update on the latest technology trials.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning also sponsored a workshop that saw the YWP and IWN cohort come together to explore how the water sector could harness the Circular Economy and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to deliver water security for the state.

Recycling Victoria: a new economy is Victoria’s circular economy policy and 10-year plan that will cut pollution and boost economic growth and jobs and the water sector is a vital component of the policy: “Organisations in the water sector are well placed to support the transition because of their access to suitable land, expertise managing organic waste and treatment technologies, and commitments to resource recovery and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” The collaborative workshop focussed on exploring our sector’s role to ensure we’re playing our part in the transition, and leveraging the economic and environmental opportunities that can come from delivering circular economy initiatives.

YWP IWN Conference 2021 Photo_GalleryCheck out all the photos from the conference in our photo gallery.

Participants worked together to consider the types of partnerships we need to build, the water sector’s interface with other systems such as energy, food and agriculture, waste management and environmental regeneration, and the new skills the sector workforce needs to hone to ensure it has a seat at the table and is making the most of its existing asset base. A plethora of ideas covering funding, skills development, legal and commercial, technology and community engagement as well as a long-list of initiatives already underway came out of the session. DELWP plans to utilise the findings as part of its policy development process. They are developing actions to accelerate the transition and support the sector to address key barriers and the workshop has generated a wealth of ideas, insights and recommendations that will be considered as part of that process.

Attendees of the joint AWA VIC Regional Young Water Professionals/ Intelligent Water Network (IWN) conference Attendees of the joint AWA VIC Regional Young Water Professionals/ Intelligent Water Network (IWN) Conference

The conference would not have been possible without the support of the generous sponsors LC Water, Department of Land Water and Environment, and Aurecon.

Special thanks to the committee of organisers of the conference lead by Georgina Catto-Smith, Joseph Elderkin and Digna Nichols from the AWA.

While the last 12 months have been full of many challenges, it is clear that within the water industry there is plenty of resilience and optimism for the future.