Bridging issue #53

“Water – the Big Picture” has become our theme-by-default this issue, a reflection of the complexity and diversity of conversations, collaborations and provocations that we’ve shared over the past few months. It also resonates with the ramping up of Fellows’ engagement with and leadership of the Trust, part of an exciting maturing of our Fellows Network, and is consistent with the leadership challenge in front of the water and environment sector in this era of climate change.

1. From the Chief Executive Officer

A critical element of “the big picture” for the Peter Cullen Trust is its governance framework, and I’d like to start this edition of Bridging with an update on our transition to a Fellows-led organisation.  This process, which is super-charging our governance framework, is a very positive reflection of the strength of the alumni of our Leadership Program.

I am delighted to welcome two new Board Directors, Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (2014, Victoria) and Andrew O’Neill (2017, Queensland), who join other Fellows Directors, Susie Williams (2011, WA), Prof Katherine Daniell (2010, ACT) and Chris Arnott (2010, Victoria) on the PCT Board. Lisa and Andrew’s tenure commenced at the Board meeting of 26 May.  In addition, Matthew Fullerton (2013, Queensland) and Simone Stewart (2022, SA) attend Board meetings as observers, representing the Fellows Committee. 

At the Graduation Ceremony on 25 May, the Hon Karlene Maywald, recognised the incredible contribution both retired Directors Andrew Campbell (2018-2022) and Suzy Nethercott-Watson (2015-2023) have made to the governance of the Trust. We are incredibly thankful to both Andrew and Suzy, and I’m sure we will continue to see both continue to support the work of the Trust.

Current and recently retired Board Directors – Left to Right: Dr Lisa Ehrenfried,
Prof Katherine Daniell, Andrew Campbell, Karlene Maywald, Suzy Nethercott-Watson, Susie Williams and Andrew O’Neill. (Note Director Chris Arnott absent).

2. In This Issue:  Water – the big picture 


By Dr Kathleen Broderick (2014)

The invitation to contribute to the national water reform conversation was identified by Rachel Connell, then Head of Division, Water Reform Taskforce, DCCEEW in her Peter Cullen Lecture, presented in November 2022. Leith Boully then further challenged Fellows to ‘lean in’ to the invitation and contribute an offering, following in the footsteps of Peter Cullen who had significant input into the NWI policy agenda.  

Galvanising PCT Fellows to provide input on national water policy was never going to be difficult. We are all leaders and interested in water and environment policy, and willing to become involved and express ideas. An organising group formed swiftly and brought a diverse skill and knowledge base to the task. The big challenge for the organising group was to bring Fellows together effectively, to focus and refine input while maintaining diverse views and perspectives, and to be in a position to present a coherent offering. 

NWR Roundtable, May 2023


By Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (2014)

Over 60 Fellows and Friends of the Trust registered for a lunchtime update on COP27 and UN 2023 water conference. The event was under the banner “There is much to be done” (Peter Cullen), and the panellists left us inspired about how we can contribute to making a difference in this challenging space.

The Hon. Karlene Maywald (Chair, Peter Cullen Trust), Lucia Gamarra (Australian Water Partnership) and Tony Slatyer (Water Policy Group and Friend of the Trust) provided overviews of the events from an insider’s perspective, which was much deeper and richer in context than was available in mainstream media.


New Colombo Plan – Introducing Australian law students to environmental issues and laws in Fiji.

By Professor Jennifer McKay (Friend of the Trust)

This Study tour to Fiji took place in April 2023, funded by the New Colombo Plan scheme.  Partnering with UniFiji Law School, supported by VC Shaista Shameen, the University of South Australia’s Professor Jennifer McKay (Friend of the Trust) and Sue Milne were accompanied by 18 senior, accomplished environmental law students.  The partnership with UniFiji enabled access to an insider view on local and international environmental law issues in Fiji and its neighbours.   Students were enriched by the engagement with the law students and were able to establish the basis for long terms friendships.

Image courtesy Megan Thomas

3. On Leadership


From Dr Bek Christensen, PCT Programs Director

Congratulations to the 2023 Science to Policy Leadership Program Graduates

We have just completed this year’s Science to Policy Leadership Program and congratulate our 17 newest Fellows – the Steady Green Ants – who graduated on 25 May.

Our new Graduates are:
Tumi Bjornsson, MDBA, SA; Yvette Colton, Aither, SA; Alex Cornish, BoM, SA; Adrian Costar, DEPWS , NT;  Sally Crook, Yarra Valley Water, Vic; Rebecca Doble, CSIRO, SA; Rebecca Dodd, DCCEEW, ACT; Joseph Guillaume, ANU, ACT; Kiara Johnson, KSJ Consulting, SA; Ian Krebs, MDBA, ACT; Yi-Ming Ma, DEECA, Vic; Michael Pisasale, Murray Irrigation Ltd, NSW; Joel Rawlinson, DEECA, Vic; Maria Rosier, DES

We were privileged to have Rosie Wheen, CEO of WaterAid Australia present at the Graduation. Rosie encouraged us all to find the joy (and dance moves!) in our leadership, and to explore the creative tension between two simultaneous truths: we are great at what we do, and we have room to grow. You can watch Rosie’s graduation address HERE.

Inaugural Leith Boully Award

Congratulations to Eric Vanweydeveld (2022 PCT Fellow and Director of Aquanex), who is the first recipient of the Leith Boully Award. This new Award from the Trust recognises a recent Fellow who, through their Leadership Program and in the 12 months since their Program, has upheld the Peter Cullen Trust’s principles, stepped up to the challenge of driving change, and exemplified the practical and fierce leadership example set by Leith Boully.  


Save the date: 2023 PCT Leadership Program (Women) in Queensland!

We are currently in the final stages of selecting the recipients for this year’s PCT Leadership Program (Women), after receiving a deluge of applications from across the country. Many thanks to those of you who have encouraged and supported potential-Fellows in your networks to apply for this Program.

We are excited this year to be hosting both sessions of the Program in South East Queensland, and look forward to the opportunities this will give us to widen our engagement with our community. 

Key dates for you to mark in your diary now are:

  • Thursday 16 November 2023
    PCT Fellows PD Day, and
    Graduation of the 2023 PCT Leadership Program (Women)
    Location: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Friday 17 November 2023
    PCT Fellows Networking Breakfast
    Location: Rydges South Bank Brisbane 


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

Jeremy Cox (2013) – Queens Birthday Public Sector Medal

Jeremy Cox was awarded a 2022 Queens Birthday Public Sector Medal (PSM) and NSW Premier’s Award finalist for establishing a new regulatory body to oversee NSW’s privatised land titles system, along with a world-first legislative framework and a national online platform, in partnership with private sector interests.

These awards also recognised Jeremy’s leadership delivering wide-ranging and nationally-significant policy initiatives more broadly across his public sector leadership roles in Commonwealth and State governments, such as working with First Nations communities to further a more inclusive and representative system of land management in support of better economic outcomes, and relevant biodiversity conservation programs. 

AWA Exceptional Service Award – Darryl Day (CEO and Friend of the Trust)

Darryl Day’s lifetime commitment to the water sector was recognised and celebrated at the recent Australian Water Association’s President’s Dinner, where he was presented with the Exceptional Service Award.  This is AWA’s highest individual honour.

In presenting the Award, AWA noted that:

 “Darryl has provided national and international leadership in water security, water planning, equity (gender) in water management, water and public health, water services and sanitation.

Through his lifelong passion to address access to sanitation and safe drinking water supplies Darryl has dedicated his life to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and some of our most disadvantaged community members.” 

4. Network News and Views


From strategic planning to professional development day to welcoming our newest graduates, the Fellows Committee continues to support and energise our growing network of Fellows across the country.

Here’s a snapshot of what the Fellows Committee has been up to:

  • The Trust’s first “nationally significant conversation” on National Water Reform has become the pilot for an ongoing Fellows and Friends engagement program around critical issues in the Sector.  Many Fellows have contributed to this work, none moreso than Dr Kath Broderick (2014), our facilitator extraordinaire.  More on this elsewhere in this edition.
  • Led by Andrew O’Neill, the first face to face Fellows Committee Strategic Planning session took place in Canberra on 24 May.  
  • Extreme Teaming was the theme of the May 25 Fellows Professional Development Day, lead by Kylie Climie, Jackie Luethi, Cath Atkinson and Kristen Knight.  The day, topped and tailed by the extraordinary Cynthia Mitchell, was rich in conversation and engagement.  Another sold-out event, pushing us to seek a bigger venue next time!
  • The new Fellows Induction Pack was shared with the 2023 S2P Graduates on 24 May, as part of a welcome to the network session, led by Andrew O’Neill and Lesley Ryall.
  • Andrew O’Neill pops up again, leading the second Fellows Professional Development Day to support the Trust’s Graduation Week in Brisbane in November.
  • Led by Trent Wallis and Simone Stewart, and ably supported by new contributors Sonia Wood and Shannon Arnott, the FC will be deploying a Fellows Networking Platform via a closed LinkedIn Group; this is targeted for launch in June 2023.
  • The Fellows Committee will undertake a review of the criteria for the Ripple Award in June.
  • The Succession Sub-Committee (Trent Wallis and Cath Atkinson) reported back on terms of office, recruitment, retention and retirement options, which were fully supported and adopted by the FC at its April meeting.  


From Andrew O’Neill (2017)

An exciting inclusion in the May Graduation Week was the first face to face strategic planning meeting of the Fellows Committee (FC).  To our more recent Fellows of the Trust, the FC has the privilege of coming up with ideas and implementing activities to support engagement of our Fellows Network which is now around 270 strong across Australia.  With a majority of the 12 current members of the FC attending, we canvassed many ideas, old and new, and developed a simple, strategic approach to how we can best support and deliver great opportunities to our Fellows Network.



From Kylie Climie (2022) on behalf of the PD Day Organising team

On Thursday 25th May, on a brisk Canberran late autumn morning, 40 Fabulous Fellows threw themselves into the joys of a fully loaded Professional Development day. The day was full of challenging thinking, precious opportunities for getting to know one another and moments to share in common challenges. 



Also known as the recovery breakfast, our Friday morning get together was over-subscribed – the slightly later start time may have been a contributing factor!

Despite some Fellows being a little sleep-deprived, the energy and buzz in the room was unmistakably PCT.  Rich conversations, getting to know you exchanges and promises to stay connected were shared, and the new cohort warmly welcomed into the wider ecosystem of the Fellows Network.

Chatham House rule prevents further disclosure!

Image courtesy Lesley Ryall


Brisbane Lunch with a Leader – Julia Spicer, OAM, Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur

By Dr Grace Muriuki (2022)

On Thursday 20th April, a few Brisbane Fellows gathered for a chat and lunch with a leader, the amazing Julia Spicer (OAM) Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur. Julia Spicer is also a founder of two regional businesses based in Goondiwindi, Queensland – Engage & Create Consulting and the Goondiwindi Business Hub.

 Image courtesy Bek Christensen

Perth Lunch with a Leader – Susan Worley, Friend of the Trust

By Fleur Coaker (2018)

The year’s first lunch with a leader session on 22 May 2023 attracted the biggest turnout in WA to date, with 11 PCT women leaders attending the lunch at beautiful Kailis Bros restaurant in Perth. We were privileged to have the company of Susan Worley, a former Director of Water Planning at the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. Susan expressed her gratitude for the invitation to be a Friend of the Peter Cullen Trust that enables her to continue to be engaged with fellow leaders in a field she is passionate about. 


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


  • TBC – report back on the National Water Reform Challenge


  • 3-8 September – 2023 Leadership Program (Women) – Session 1, Queeensland
  • 12-17 November – 2023 Leadership Program (Women) – Session 2, Queeensland


  • Early August – PCT Audit, Finance and Risk Committee Meeting
  • 17 August – PCT Board Meeting


  • 5 June – World Environment Day
  • 8 June – World Oceans Day
  • 2-9 July – NAIDOC Week
  • 7-13 August – Landcare Week
  • 9 August – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
  • September – National Biodiversity Month


Public consultation on MBD Plan Delivery – public webinar 20 June

DCCEEW has opened a public consultation process from 29 May to 3 July 2023 to gather community ideas about delivery of the Basin Plan: 

This is an opportunity for all stakeholders and the broader community to provide innovative ideas and options on how the Basin Plan can be delivered. 

A public webinar will be held on Tuesday 20 June to enable anyone to learn more about the process and ask questions – details will be available at the link above. In addition, DCCEEW will hold targeted virtual workshops with representatives from the key stakeholder groups of First Nations, environmentalists, academics, irrigators/farmers, and local government to further explore ideas. 

For more information, please visit the website listed above or contact DCCEEW directly.

ESA2023 – Darwin 3-7 July 

The next Ecological Society of Australia conference will be held in Darwin in early July 2023.  The program is richly populated with Fellows and Friends of the Peter Cullen Trust including Professor Anne Poelina (2011), Associate Professor Bradley Moggridge (2018) and Dr Steve Morton (Friend of the Trust).

For more information and registrations please visit the ESA2023 website HERE.

6. Across the Sector


AQUOR – Senior to Principal Project Manager, Principal Hydrologist, Senior to Principal Geotechnical Engineer

Posted by company founder and PCT Fellow, Amirhomayoun (Andrew) Izadyar (2019)

AQUOR was founded in February 2017 in order to develop and commercialise the subsurface dam scheme (underground dam) as a resilient and a new water supply infrastructure in Australia. AQUOR has a Vision and a Mission which have been inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN. The AQUOR Vision is to be an enterprise that advances the sustainability of the environment in order to move toward a brighter future. The AQUOR Mission is creating more liveable places for communities by keeping the environment sustainable. The target region for developing the subsurface dam is the Wet Tropics of QLD and the QLD Government is supporting this. As the concept/technology of the subsurface dam is new in Australia, and it has not been developed thus far, AQUOR has formed a consortium by which a group of companies have teamed up to work together. The role of AQUOR is the lead manager, IP company and project manager/coordinator. AQUOR has begun its recruiting process to form its internal team and find the essential skills that it needs for subsurface dam development in QLD. The skills that AQUOR is seeking are as follows: 

  • Senior to Principal Project Manager: (One Candidate)

  • Principal Hydrogeologist: (One Candidate)

  • Senior to Principal Geotechnical Engineer: (One Candidate)

7. Interesting Stuff


Authors: Klein, L., Buckle, P., Nguyen, N., Preiser, R., & Ison, R. (2022)

This annual essay from the Executive Committee of the IFSR (International Federation for Systems Research) reprises and extends an agenda for action drawing on systems and cybernetic understandings that framed the first report to the Club of Rome.  In his 1970 report Hasan Özbekhan compiled an extensive collection of intersecting issues confronting humanity which was named the Global Problématique. Alas, half a century later, we find ourselves even further entrenched in this network of complex, systemic, issues that some have framed the Anthropocene, which when accepted as a framing choice constitutes a period new to human history. Collectively, we must take seriously the question: what purposeful action will aid human flourishing, create and sustain a viable space for humanity. This applies in all domains of human action. 



Authors: Sharon Pollard, Edward Riddell, Derick R. Du Toit, Hugo Retief, Ray L. Ison (2022)

Published in Special Issue: Deeper Water: Exploring Barriers and Opportunities for the Emergence of Adaptive Water Governance, Ecology & Society Article no. 47  

This paper contributes to scholarship on adaptive water governance (AWG), following policy reforms in South Africa, through a focus on systemic feedbacks for learning and adaptation as critical aspects of AWG. In the Crocodile Basin, meta-governance arrangements that created an enabling space for collaborative experimentation and learning proved critical as feedbacks were progressively strengthened and embedded through evolving social and institutional arrangements. The enabling environment also supported a networked, blended system of stakeholder- and state-led platforms that have co-evolved through experimentation and learning. Despite progress, long-term persistence of action-learning feedbacks appears less certain in the Olifants Basin cases. Attention must be paid to the multiple scales of governance that comprise the overall governance system and the feedbacks between them.



By Professor Jennifer McKay (Friend of the Trust)

Climate change risks and the signing of the net zero by 2050 commitment (Climate Change Act in September 2022) has revolutionized Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) considerations by Australian judges, lawyers, Governments and corporate actors.  This has prompted many training organizations to form to train lawyers, engineers, mining professionals and accountants in the legal pathways for sustainable development. Internally, many organizations such as the IWA and AWA are training as well and sharing ways to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially climate action, peace, justice and sustainable institutions, intergenerational equity and work towards viewing the environment as a catena. 

“Catena” means a connected series of related things or a chain, and that idea has always guided my natural resources management law and policy research.  I have always seen the natural environment as connected and have bemoaned that Federal and state laws have been siloed, used different language and definitions and have only considered cumulative impacts as indirect impacts since 2004.


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