15th Anniversary

In 2024, the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust marks 15 years of fostering courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment.  In May, the Trust will come together in two milestone events to celebrate and perpetuate the legacy of its namesake. 

The Cullen Legacy

When Professor Peter Cullen passed away on 13 March 2008 the nation lost a champion of water.  A leader, visionary, provocateur and change-maker.  In the aftermath, a small group of his close friends and colleagues gathered at The Boat House in Canberra to explore the possibilities for furthering Peter’s remarkable 30-year contribution to science communications and public policy in water and environment in Australia. The seed for the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust was sown.

In 2009, the Commonwealth Government invested $1M in the establishment of the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust, a registered charitable not-for-profit organization, with a mission to “invest strategically in building water science and policy capacity in Australia, to inform national water and environmental debates, and to set new standards for environmental water management”.

Since then:

  • 280+ Fellows have graduated from the transformative Peter Cullen Trust Leadership Program and been inspired and supported in their leadership journey.
  • Over 170 Friends of the Trust have been appointed, forming our circle of influence and creating their own legacies.
  • The Trust’s work has been sustained through generous philanthropic support, scholarships and sponsorships of individuals and programs, and through the visionary fiscal management of its volunteer Board.

The 15th Anniversary Boat House Dinner

The 15TH Anniversary Boat House Dinner is a unique opportunity to reflect on Peter Cullen the person and celebrate his legacy. The Dinner will turn the clock back to revisit Peter’s remarkable contribution to water science, policy, engagement and reform; importantly, it will also look ahead to the challenges in the nexus between climate and water, food and energy security.  What has changed and what remains still to be done?

The Dinner is a platform to discuss Peter Cullen’s transformative influence with founders of the Trust; to hear from Fellows who are both the beneficiaries and the future of the Trust; and to challenge ourselves to courageously tackle the big challenges in water and environment.

With a capacity of 120, this is an intimate dining, learning and networking experience, in a significant venue and at a pivotal moment in the Trust’s history.

We are pleased to confirm that the Hon Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water, will be one of our guest speakers on the night.

Largely reserved for the Fellows and Friends of the Trust, there are a small number of opportunities for aligned organisations to partner this milestone event.

2024 PCT Water Symposium

To coincide with our milestone Boat House Dinner (Canberra, 22 May 2024), this year’s first Fellows Professional Development Day has been recast as the “Water Symposium”, a whole day forum for bold, informed and solutions-oriented debate around the imperatives for change to prepare Australia for climate change.

To paraphrase our namesake: “When water is scarce what will we prioritise?”  Through our 2024 lens, we will add a layer to this still relevant issue and ask, in the face of climate extremes and repeat catastrophes, how will we respond?  Be prepared for a respectful “stoush”, in true Peter Cullen style.

In the morning, speakers and panelists will present the evidence – the irrefutable truth – in climate science.  We will consider what this means for First Nations people; for biodiversity; for irrigators; for regional communities; and for leaders.

In the afternoon, small groups will debate the priorities for change, reflect on their individual and collective leadership challenges to implement change and make personal commitments to what we will do and drive as leaders. We aim to reach agreement on realising outcomes from these priority actions and to validate our mutual accountability.

The Water Symposium will be free to attend for Fellows, Friends and invited guests of the Trust, but numbers will be limited.  It will be conducted under Chatham House rule, with some presentations and outcomes recorded and shared, by prior agreement with contributors.

Symposium Facilitators

  • Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO, Chair PCT
  • Dr Kathleen Broderick, PCT Fellow (2014)

This event is reserved for the Fellows, Friends and invited guests of the Trust, however there are a small number of opportunities for aligned organisations to partner and participate in this significant conversation.