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Chelsea Hayward - Accelerating Action

Young Water Professionals (YWPs) are crucial for a sustainable water future and 2023 YWP of the Year, Chelsea Hayward delivered an exceptional address to delegates today, reminding them of the power of upskilling and fresh thinking to the water sector.

Young water professionals turned out in droves for the YWP specific program for Ozwater'24. Chelsea Hayward (Senior Process Engineer at Jacobs) delivered the keynote address calling all delegates to make a stronger change in the industry, to accelerate action and stand up for all young water professionals with an introduction from AWA President Peter Dennis who praised Chelsea and YWP's for their tenacity and enthusiasm.

"Young water professionals are a strong, vibrant part of our industry. I had the privilege of listening to Chelsea at Connected by Water in Perth earlier this year and her message was clear, The next generation very much have skin in the game and want a seat at the table in planning our water future." - AWA President Peter Dennis told delegates.

"I am very excited to be part of the YWP Program today, the theme Accelerating Action really resonates with me... we have definitely made some progress towards a sustainable water future but I've heard from senior water professionals that the talks we're having today are the same conversations they had [when they were in our shoes]." - Chelsea said in her opening statement.

Chelsea fell into the water industry having applied for many graduate roles across many industries but felt working in the water industry was a great middle ground to apply her chemical and environmental engineering studies and felt she could contribute to sustainable outcomes and help people.

She has worked in the water industry for over seven years, with opportunities with work with talented individuals and make meaningful change. This has also been a learning journey for Chelsea in how she get's the wider sector involved in making water a careful focus.

Talk that talk on water

Chelsea implored delegates to change the way they talk about water to be adaptable by highlighting water as a purpose driven nature that's more relatable to each person e.g. "you can talk to sports obsessed people by giving details on how the water keeps their footy fields green" or "instead of going into specifics on filtration, you can tell people that your job is to keep drinking water that comes from your household taps nice and clean".

The goal is to showcase the every day impact of what we do in the water industry. Chelsea believes these simple changes in the way we talk about water can help other people jump on board to become more involved in water sustainability.

Around the world

More recently, Chelsea has had more experience travelling overseas, meeting experts and driving the change necessary for Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG-6). She spoke about the joy of seeing other likeminded young water professionals around the world who are just as committed and involved to driving change and spearheading conversations on water, engineering, change and future-proofing our sector.

53350230888_c354de80f7_cLate in 2023, Chelsea was chosen to attend an on-Country Cultural immersion tour of the Gomeroi lands of Australia. Guided by Dr. Leslie (Phil) Duncan and Professor Cynthia Mitchell AO, Chelsea joined other water professionals and staff from the Australian Water Association.


The challenge for Young Water Professionals

"What can accelerating action look like for you? The work we do in the water sector is diverse so you need to figure out what making a meaningful contribution looks like for you.

This could be within your day-to-day work or volunteer activities. It may also include advocating for water policies, developing solutions and more." - Chelsea said.

"If we want to meet our Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we need to take more concrete action and we as young water professionals can make more meaningful contributions and challenge in the industry to do more."

Chelsea finished her presentation by presenting a few challenges for Young Water Professionals who are attending Ozwater'24.

  1. Don't stick with just your fellow young water professionals, make sure you network with senior and experienced delegates. Show them what us young people are made of!

  2. Ask challenging questions in all sessions. Ask companies and utilities how they're taking initiatives to accelerate action.