Bridging issue #52

In writing this introduction to Bridging, I was reminded of the important leadership role of Fellows and Friends in advocating for science, evidence-informed policy reform and resources for transformative change in how we manage water and the environment. Australia is at a crossroad in water and biodiversity policy. We have a window of opportunity to influence the reform agenda for the next decade, or longer. The late, the Hon John Kerin AO, credited Peter Cullen as having a pivotal role in placing water on the national agenda. We have an obligation to show the same courage.

1. From the Chief Executive Officer

On 13 March 2009, the then Minister for Climate Change, the Hon Senator Penny Wong, announced $1 million in funding to help establish the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust. The funding was to continue Peter’s legacy as an inspiring and influential leader in the important debate about water. This included leadership skills in communication (speaking for the rivers with clarity and credibility), promoting informed exchange and debate and contributing to improved water management. Next year we will celebrate 15 years since the announcement, with over 250 graduates from the Trust’s transformative leadership programs continuing Peter’s legacy. But today, the challenge is to contribute to what we want for Australia’s reform agenda.


2. In This Issue: Biodiversity

Image courtesy Tanya Doody

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

The new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted at COP-15 in December 2022.  The support framework sets the global biodiversity action agenda for the next decade and has significant implications for water management.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water outlines the Framework, the action agenda, targets and broad implications for Australia.  

Read more here

Australian Species Back From the Brink

Australia’s Biodiversity Council is committed to solving Australia’s biodiversity crisis.  Recent research, published in Biological Conservation and shared via The Conversation, has identified 15 Australian mammals, eight birds, four frogs, one reptile and one fish have recovered sufficiently to no longer meet the criteria for listing as threatened.

Read more on the Conversation

Read the paper in Science Direct

Taking Biodiversity from Science to Action

From Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (2014) and Ruth McDonnell (2021)

Many of you probably know that a key outcome from the recent COP15 was to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. But you may not be aware that they also included – for the first time! that this expectation should be borne by large corporations as well as countries. Now many companies are wondering how they can measure biodiversity. What their existing performance is, and what they can do about it. Some are even exploring what it would mean to be nature positive. 

Yarra Valley Water has been exploring these questions and accordingly took the opportunity to facilitate a seminar on this topic in February 2023. The headline speakers included Pavan Sukhdev – an international thought leader on sustainability; Professor Sarah Bekessy – who teaches environmental studies and sustainability at RMIT University; and Carl Obst, whose experience includes being the lead author and editor of the United Nation’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – the international statistical standard for accounting for natural capital.  

Photo Courtesy YVW: Upper Yarra Sewerage Treatment facility can be designed to benefit two critically endangered species

ACCESS THE PRESENTATIONS via request to Lisa Ehrenfried

Watch the video

3. On Leadership


From Dr Bek Christensen, PCT Programs Director

The first quarter of the year has flown by, with a number of new and continuing PCT Programs activities.

2023 Peter Cullen Leadership Program (Women) – applications open

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN for the 2023 Peter Cullen Trust Leadership Program (Women). 

Formerly the ‘PCT Women in Water Leadership Program’, this program will now be delivered under the single banner of ‘Peter Cullen Trust Leadership Program’, ensuring consistency of content and experience across all delivery platforms.  The change is in name only, with all program content and structure retained: PCT Leadership Programs will continue to set the standard for leadership in our sector, fostering courageous leaders who will drive the sustainable and equitable management of Australia’s waterways and natural environments.

The Program is designed to have transformational, lasting impact, and significantly change the clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capability of each participant.  Upon graduation, participants enter the PCT Fellows Network – now over 240 people – offering Fellows opportunities for ongoing engagement and development.  The 2023 Peter Cullen Trust Leadership Program (Women) will be held (for the first time, thank you for the incredible support from our program partner Pinnacle Charitable Foundation) in Brisbane across two sessions in September and November 2023.

We invite our readers to reach out to individuals you think may be interested in applying and to speak with them about the Program. Recently refreshed Information for Applicants and Information for Sponsors is available on the Trust’s website: 

Applications close on 30 April 2023. 

One Basin CRC

In February, we delivered a tailored leadership program for leaders from across the new One Basin CRC, which is focused on productive, resilient, and sustainable Irrigation Regions. Across its scheduled 10 years of operation, the CRC is in a unique position to deliver solutions for management of the Murray-Darling Basin. The PCT is one of the 85+ partners in the CRC, and we’re pleased that the CRC chose to invest in its leadership from the outset.

Our week together was focused on developing leadership mindsets and capabilities, supporting team formation, and setting a leadership vision for the CRC. As you’d expect, we brought our usual experiential approach, grounded in awareness, curiosity, and accountability. I extend my thanks to the CRC team for diving in wholeheartedly, and I look forward to our continued work together throughout the life of the CRC.

WSAA Young Utility Leaders’ Program

I was then lucky enough to travel to Whadjuk Nyoongar Country (Perth) as part of PCT’s continuing partnership with WSAA’s Young Utility Leader’s Program. As well as delivering a workshop for the program, it was a great opportunity to connect with some of PCT’s Perth-based community, including several Fellows. It’s always a treat for me to meet new faces and reconnect with familiar ones, and to hear your stories of impact from your experience with PCT.

Continuing the partnership theme, I also attended the Australian Water Partnership’s (AWP) Annual Partner’s Workshop on Kaurna Country (Adelaide). As a relative newcomer to AWP, I valued the opportunity to learn more about the depth and breadth of their work, and to start considering the ways that the PCT community, our experience, and our knowledge could be used to support AWP. A highlight of this experience was the time we spent with Kaurna leaders to listen, learn, and be challenged. It was also a pleasant surprise to meet many Fellows at this gathering, along with ‘future Fellows’ – participants on this year’s Science to Policy Leadership Program.

2023 Science to Policy (S2P) Leadership Program

We have just delivered Session 1 for the 2023 Science to Policy Leadership Program, with a group of 17 participants from almost all states and territories, and a range of organisations including NRM bodies, utilities, government agencies, private industry, and irrigation councils. The participants are now back home and straight into their group project work.

2023 S2P Group at the completion of Session 1

We look forward to introducing them to you as our newest Fellows at their program graduation in May.


Sparked by Leith Boully’s 2022 Graduation Address, the Fellows Network has enthusiastically embraced the National Water Reform Challenge. In summary the Fellows engagement to date has included:

  1. 12-person Fellows Organising Committee
  2. Lead facilitation of the process – Dr Kath Broderick (2014)
  3. 70+ registrations (and 50+ attendees) at the 31 January NWR Workshop
  4. Individual Facilitation and write up of six themes covered in the Workshop
  5. Survey
  6. PD Day Breakfast Session in Canberra on 25 May to discuss the six themes; representatives of DCCEEW invited to participate in this Nationally significant conversation, under Chatham House Rule


Fellows and Friends of the PCT are widely acknowledged for their individual achievements and contributions on many fronts, including:

Tony Slatyer (Friend of the Trust) – ACT Australian Water Association Water Professional of the Year

By Nic Morgan (2018)

The Peter Cullen Trust congratulates Tony Slatyer (Friend of the Trust) who recently won the ACT Australian Water Association Water Professional of the Year award. This award honours individuals who have displayed passion and commitment, while inspiring positive change, over the last 5 years working in water.  He will now compete for the national award, which will be announced in May.

Anthony (Tony) Slatyer is a highly respected, influential and engaged water sector leader. Tony plays a significant role at a global and national level in achieving advancements in sustainable water management and is extensively involved as a volunteer across a wide range of committees, groups and initiatives. In 2022 Tony shared his experiences as part of the Peter Cullen Trust ‘Lunch with a Leader’ series, and is generously joining us again in a forthcoming National Webinar, discussing his experience at UN 2023.



Vale, the Hon John Kerin, AO, Friend of the Trust

PCT has lost a wonderful Friend of the Trust with the passing of the Hon John Kerin AO on 29 March 2023. John was a visionary, passionate and authentic leader who dedicated his political career, and his life after retirement from Federal Parliament, to transforming Australia’s agriculture sector and the management of water and the environment through investment in science and evidence based policy.  


4. Network News and Views

Fellows Committee

The Fellows Committee and the associated City Leads group have been busy in the early part of this year; read on for more on who they are and what they’re up to:

Have you met the crew? The current membership of the FC is:

  • Andrew O’Neill (Qld – 2017)
  • Catherine Atkinson (ACT – 2022)
  • Deborah Bower (NSW – 2019)
  • Jackie Luethi (ACT – 2022)
  • Kylie Climie (NT – 2022)
  • Matthew Fullerton (Qld – 2013)
  • Monique White (SA – 2015)
  • Paul Frazier (NSW – 2012)
  • Simon Treadwell (Vic – 2011)
  • Simone Stewart (SA – 2021)
  • Trent Wallis (Vic – 2017)
  • Vanessa Moscovis (WA – 2022)

The Committee has met monthly through the year to date – 24 January, 23 February and 30 March. Meetings are scheduled on the last Thursday of each month for the remainder of 2023, with an in person strategic planning meeting in Canberra on 24 May, as part of Graduation Week events.

City Leads

The City Leads are the Fellows Network glue in our major cities, delivering 2-3 gatherings in each location each year. They are:

  • Adelaide – Dan Mollison (2022)/ Stuart Richardson (2010)
  • Brisbane – Matthew Fullerton (2013)
  • Canberra – Josh Hindson (2018)
  • Melbourne – Alanna Wright (2021)/Karen White (2021)
  • Perth – Stacey Hamilton (2018)
  • Sydney – Kathryn Silvester (2022)/Lisa Hamilton (2022)

We welcome Lisa Hamilton to the joint Sydney City Lead role, supporting Kathryn Silvester; and Josh Hindson, replacing Sean Kelly, in Canberra.

Also in this issue, we report on Lunch with a Leader events in Melbourne and Darwin (our first in that fair city).

The next Lunch with a Leader is with Julia Spicer, OAM, in Brisbane on 20 April – for details and to register click HERE.


Melbourne Lunch with a Leader – Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo, Managing Director, Melbourne Water

By Ruth McDonnell (2021); photograph by Karen White (2021)

A capacity-crowd of Fellows got together on the 3rd of February for an intimate chat with the esteemed Managing Director of Melbourne Water Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo.  We met on the 6th floor of Melbourne Water’s offices in the Docklands with a view over the city and the occasional interruption from rumbling freight trains down below.


Darwin’s First Lunch with a Leader – Jo Townsend, CEO, Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security

By Clare Taylor (2010)

All Darwin fellows – Kylie Climie (2022), Mardi Miles (2017), Matt Salmon (2012) and Clare Taylor (2010) – as well as Trust CEO Darryl Day and Paul Frazier (2012), participated in the first ever Darwin ‘Lunch with a Leader’ event.


Other Fellows Committee Initiatives

  • Two Fellows Professional Development Days to support the Trust’s Graduation Weeks in May and November. We look forward to seeing many of you in Canberra in May – registrations are open HERE
  • A Networking Platform for testing in the next few months, with a view to deployment to all Fellows in the second half of the year.

Where are they now?

Fellows move about a good deal; here are some career updates:

Dr Emma Carmody (2013)

In 2022, Professor Will Glamore and Dr Emma Carmody (PCT Class of 2013) and other experts co-founded a for-purpose business called Restore Blue. Restore Blue’s objective is to restore lost blue carbon wetlands (mangroves, saltmarsh, sea grasses) at scale in Australia and internationally. Will and Emma are pleased to report that the restoration business is progressing well. 


Where are you now?

Help us to stay connected. Have you had a career change recently?

This is an invitation for all Fellows to update us on your current roles, titles, preferred emails, contact details etc. Please share your details with Lesley Ryall, Fellows Network Coordinator, at

5. Diary Dates


  • 20 April – Brisbane Lunch with a Leader, Julia Spicer, OAM – REGISTER HERE
  • 24 May – 2021 S2P 12-month RRR; Fellows Committee Strategic Planning – Canberra
  • 25 May – 2023 S2P Graduation; Fellows PD Day – Canberra
  • 26 May – Fellows Breakfast; PCT Board Meeting – Canberra
  • For all Graduation Week events, REGISTER HERE


  • 9 May – WSAA Workshop 3, Sydney
  • 21-25 May – 2023 Science to Policy Session 2, Canberra
  • 3-8 September – 2023 Leadership Program (Women) – Session 1, Queeensland
  • 12-17 November – 2023 Leadership Program (Women) – Session 2, Queeensland
  • Applications are open for the 2023 Leadership Program (Women) – APPLY HERE


  • 10 May – PCT Audit and Finance Committee Meeting
  • 26 May – PCT Board Meeting
  • 2 August – PCT Audit and Finance Committee Meeting
  • 17 August – PCT Board Meeting


  • 22 April – International Mother Earth Day
  • 22 May – International Day for Biological Diversity
  • 5 June – World Environment Day
  • 8 June – World Oceans Day


Ozwater’23 – 10-12 May, Sydney

The biggest water conference and exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere, Ozwater is an annual three-day line up of international and national speakers, scientific and technical papers, case studies, workshops, panel sessions and poster presentations, supported by 200+ exhibitors.


21st International Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology – 4-9 June, Darwin

For the first time, Australia will host the International Water Association’s Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology from 4 – 9 June 2023, in Darwin. The Theme is “Water Safety for All — reflections and emerging concerns.” The Symposium, hosted by Water Research Australia (WaterRA), will cover all aspects of health-related water microbiology across the whole water cycle, applied and basic research on water, micro-organisms and impacts on human health.


River Reflections – 14-15 June, Narrabri

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority hosts an annual water conference called River Reflections. This year it will be held in Narrabri, NSW on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 June 2023. 


6. Across the Sector

Community Voices – An Australian Perspective on Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Authors – Hon Karlene Maywald, Leith Boully, Darryl Day and Michelle Campbell (2021)

Commissioned by the Australian Water Partnership, Community Voices draws on the extensive experiences and interactions Leith and Karlene had during the development of the Murray Darling Basin plan.  It provides an Australian perspective on the complexity and challenges of water reform from a community perspective.  It represents an important contribution to the Australian water reform journey in addition to the technical and policy reform experiences.

Launched on 14 February 2023, the publication is available for download by the PCT network HERE.

Interested, but don’t have time to read a long report? Try the summary document HERE.

Listening to National Water Leaders – a survey by the Water Policy Group

Friends of the Trust, Tony Slatyer and Jane Doolan, are key members of the Water Policy Group, an international cohort of water sector experts who have been decision makers and trusted advisors within governments and international bodies handling complex water policy and strategy.

As a contribution to the United Nations 2023 Water Conference (New York, 22-24 March), the Water Policy Group released their latest survey – “Listening to National Water Leaders” – and the results provide thought-provoking insights about how the UN and other international processes can help achieve water outcomes at the country level.


In addition, the WPG has also proposed a new approach to help policy-makers solve the most sensitive water management issues. “Global Scaffolding for Water Policy” is intended to assist governments to work through difficult water management decisions using global principles and guidance agreed through an inclusive, inter-government and multi-stakeholder process. It proposes a “safe working space” for policy makers seeking to solve the most sensitive issues in water resources management.


7. Interesting Stuff

Australian Deserts

From Steve Morton, Friend of the Trust

The Australian Outback is vast, ancient and a place of boom-and-bust climate extremes.  It is tough, wild and beautiful with an ecological framework unfamiliar to most urban Australians.

In his award-winning book, Australian Deserts: Ecology and Landscapes, Friend of the Trust and story-teller par excellence, Dr Steve Morton, shares his lifetime experience of the Outback, through science, understanding and a deep engagement with our arid heart.  

The dry bed of the Finke River running southward from the West MacDonnell Ranges (photo: Mike Gillam).

Development of a national 7-day ensemble streamflow forecasting service for Australia

From Dr Paul Feikema (2017)

Published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 26, 4801–4821, 2022. 

This study presents development of an operational 7 day ensemble streamflow forecasting service for Australia to meet the growing needs of users, primarily water and river managers, for probabilistic forecasts to support their decision making. We test modelling methodology for 100 catchments to learn the characteristics of different rainfall forecasts, the effect of statistical processing on streamflow forecasts, the optimal ensemble size, and parameters for calculating forecast skill. The service, which has been operational since 2019, provides daily updates of graphical and tabular products of ensemble streamflow forecasts along with performance information, at hourly intervals for up to 7 days ahead.

Read the research article

Regional significance of historical trends and step changes in Australian streamflow

From Dr Paul Feikema (2017)

Published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 27, 229–254, 2023.

The Hydrologic Reference Stations is a network of 467 high-quality streamflow gauging stations across Australia developed and maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology. The main objectives of the service are to observe and detect climate-driven changes in observed streamflow and to provide a quality-controlled dataset for research. We investigated trends and step changes in streamflow across Australia. Most regions showed statistically significant decreasing trends with respect to annual total and all four seasons. Most step changes occurred during 1970–1999. In the south-eastern part of Australia, the majority of these step changes occurred in the 1990s.

Read the research article

Reframing governance possibilities for urban biodiversity conservation through systemic co-inquiry

Authors:  Ray Ison (Friend of the Trust), Laura Mumaw, Helen Corney, Nadine Gaskell, Irene Kelly 

Published in Environmental Policy & Governance, 2023

In cities, biodiversity conservation faces short-term approaches, with limited connection between biodiversity and community well-being rather than on their interconnection. Many believe that urban citizenry lack the requisite ethic or skills for conservation action or biodiversity governance.   


Dramaturgies for re-imagining Murray-Darling Basin governing

Authors:  Raymond L. Ison (Friend of the Trust), Naomi Rubenstein, Maddie R. Shelton & Philip J. Wallis

Published in Australasian Journal of Water Resources, 2023

Effective governing of the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) along an unfolding, viable trajectory within a human-created Anthropocene-world seems more elusive than ever. In this paper a research and praxis agenda for dramaturgy as an initiative that seeks ‘effective’ water governance in the MDB is proposed. 


Beyond COVID: reframing the global problematique with STiP (systems thinking in practice)

From Ison, R.L. (Friend of the Trust)

Published in Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering (JSSSE) 2023

In 1970 the French term ‘problematique’ was coined to refer to a set of 49 interrelated global problems; the classic description of wicked and tame problems was published soon after, yet little progress has been made towards answering the question: what purposeful action will aid human flourishing, create and sustain a viable space for humanity, in our ongoing co-evolution with the Anthropocene-Biosphere? 


Protecting Springs in the Southwest Great Artesian Basin

From Simone Stewart (2021)

Simone Stewart (2021) was recently a co-author on a chapter in the book Threats to Springs in a Changing World: Science and Policies for Protection. The book includes a number of case studies which document the declining quality and quantity of springs around the world and efforts to preserve, protect and restore them. 

Simone co-authored the chapter titled Protecting Springs in the Southwest Great Artesian Basin, Australia having previously authored the Far North Prescribed Wells Area Water Allocation Plan.

Great Artesian Basin spring. Image: Graham Green, DEW

The chapter describes protection measures in place for the Great Artesian Basin Springs in South Australia. The abstract is provided below, and please contact Simone if you would like a copy of the chapter in its entirety –


A river basin scale spatial model to advance understanding of riverine tree response to hydrological management

Authors:  Doody TM (2015), Gao S, Vervoort W, Pritchard JL, Davies MJ, Nolan M, Nagler P. 

Published in Journal of Environmental Management, 332, 2023

A method and the related available data, is presented to allow scaling of floodplain tree water use across the Murray-Darling Basin, providing monthly data related to tree water stress from 2000-current with 30m pixel resolution. 

Photo: Tanya Doody

Read the paper

Sustainable management of groundwater extraction: An Australian perspective on current challenges

Authors: Cook PG, Shanafield M, Anderson MS, Bourke S, Cartwright I, Cleverly J, Currell M, Doody TM (2015) Hofmann H, Hugmann H, Irvine D, Jakeman A, McKay J, Nelson R, Werner A.

Published Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies V44, 2022

This manuscript comprehensively presents the key challenges facing management of groundwater resources in Australia.

Read the manuscript

Fine scale 20-year timeseries forest evapotranspiration for the Lower Limestone Coast

Authors: Doody TM (2015), Benyon RG, Gao S.

Published in Hydrological Processes, 2023

Long-term plantation tree water use data for the Limestone Coast in South Australia is presented, detailing methods and location of freely available spatial layers, to inform groundwater management in the region. 

Read the paper

Catchment Health Indicator Program 2022 – Waterwatch report

Launched on 22 March 2023 (World Water Day) by ACT Minister for Water, Shane Rattenbury, the Waterwatch publication, “Catchment Health Indicator Program” is the culmination of 2000 water quality surveys collected at 237 sites across the Upper Murrumbidgee River Catchment by more than 200 dedicated volunteers.  Waterwatch Coordinator and PCT Fellow Martin Lind (2012) notes that this Waterwatch program is an outstanding example of how facilitated “citizen science” can provide evidentiary data (water quality, waterbug and riparian condition) to support an early warning system for riverine health issues.

The CHIP Report can be downloaded HERE

Table of Contents