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Spotlight on the Queensland Industry Breakfast

The Queensland Branch kicked off its 2024 program with another sell out Industry Breakfast. Queensland President Elect, William Speirs, shares his key takeaways from the discussion about water needs, workforce development, and resilience.

2024 kicked off with the Queensland Industry Breakfast and Discussion Panel exploring the future of the water industry. Drawing a sell-out crowd of over 300 attendees to Victoria Park, and with online hubs in Cairns and Mackay, the event showcased the robust interest and activity in the water sector statewide.

Sponsored by Jacobs, with coffee cart sponsors Counterpart Solutions, the panel provided a platform to explore critical topics such as water needs, workforce development, and resilience.

The morning commenced with a Welcome to Country by Songwoman Maruci, who eloquently shared the ancestral story spanning Queensland and beyond, emphasizing the importance of music, singing, and language in their traditions that continue to this day.

Featuring a lineup of esteemed industry professionals, the discussion panel included:

  • Dr. Lisa Caffery, Chair of Sunwater
  • Neil Brennan, CEO of Seqwater
  • Linda Dobe, Acting Director General of the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing, and Water

Through the superb moderation of Jacob's Georgina Catto-Smith, the engaging discussions unearthed several key themes on the challenges and opportunities facing the water industry:

  • Skills Shortage and Career Development:
    The panel stressed the urgent need to address the skills shortage, particularly in areas beyond South East Queensland. They highlighted the importance of promoting water careers, engaging youth through educational initiatives, and establishing clear career pathways to attract and retain talent.

  • Resilience Amidst Environmental Challenges:
    With climate change altering weather patterns, the panel underscored the importance of bolstering water infrastructure resilience against droughts and floods. Strategies discussed aimed to enhance infrastructure resilience and ensure a dependable water supply despite adverse conditions.

  • Regional Challenges and Collaboration:
    Acknowledging the unique water management challenges in regional communities, the panel emphasized the value of developing greater collaborative partnerships, including the Mutual Aid Coordination Cell recently involved in supporting our northern colleagues in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Jasper. They stressed the need for stakeholder coordination and collaboration to tackle shared challenges and optimize resource management.

The panel generated such high interest that time constraints prevented all questions from being addressed, highlighting the depth of exploration and the industry's ongoing discourse. Responding to the sustained interest in recycled water, the AWA Queensland branch plans to host another dedicated event later in the year.

The insights and discussions from the Queensland Industry Breakfast and Discussion Panel serve as a catalyst for continued dialogue, collaboration, and innovation in steering the future of the water industry.