Bridging issue #56

We often reflect on Peter Cullen’s vision, his ability to articulate the complex in plain, accessible language and on his courageous leadership. Peter was the master of the metaphor. We have many examples of these attributes, captured in the seminal publication “This Land Our Water” edited by our Patron Vicky Cullen. In this issue of Bridging we invite you to reflect on one of Peter’s most memorable speeches from the publication: “Science and Politics – Speaking Truth to Power”. Peter gave the speech at the North American Benthological Society Annual Conference in the USA, in June 2006, and I can imagine the impact it had on those present, as it will on readers today.

1. From the Chief Executive Officer

By Darryl Day

Mahatma Gandhi said “It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone.”

Courageous leaders may not always be recognised as the bold or highly visible, but are often the less visible, drawing purpose from deep reflection, and the strength of their resolution. At times leading from behind. At times leading from the front. In this issue we invite you to explore courageous leadership through different styles of leadership, each impactful in their own way.

I also invite you to reflect on your own leadership journey, how and where you can be impactful, purposeful and courageous, and what you want your leadership legacy to be.  These are the questions that I’ve asked myself as I come to the end of my time as CEO of the Trust and seek some appropriate words to leave with you.


2. In This Issue: Courageous Leadership

Passing the Baton – a tribute to our CEO, Darryl Day

From Trust Chair, the Hon Karlene Maywald, and the PCT Board

Darryl Day joined the trust in February 2021, in the midst of the Covid pandemic and at a very challenging time for everyone.  Within the Trust, we were experiencing and absorbing the impact of the pandemic, we were unable to run our programs, our networking events were compromised or cancelled and our business model severely tested.

During that time, and since, Darryl has provided us with the leadership we needed, to come out of that experience better and stronger.  Darryl’s warmth, humility and courage have created a culture of kindness and optimism that makes the Trust a very special place to be.  With his unique brand of leadership, Darryl has been a constant guide who has helped us navigate three very testing years and emerge with our business, our brand, our networks and our future in very good shape.

Trust CEO, Darryl Day, is recognised for his outstanding service by Trust Chairperson, the Hon Karlene Maywald

Science and Politics – Speaking Truth to Power

This paper by Peter Cullen was presented to the North American Benthological Society Annual Conference Anchorage, Alaska, USA, in June 2006, and published in “This Land Our Water” in 2011.

In his November 2023 Graduation Address, guest speaker Professor John Thwaites AM noted that Peter Cullen epitomised “fighting back and courage” and referenced the “seminal paper” that is published below.  Professor Thwaites drew attention to this quote from Peter Cullen:

“Committed and knowledgeable scientists can make a contribution to public policy if they are prepared to speak out.”

Turn to Page 313


So many of the big issues facing society are “science-intensive”, and beneficial outcomes are unlikely unless science can be actively engaged in the development and assessment of appropriate policies. Climate change, over-allocation of water, endangered species issues as well as a raft of medical issues are all science-intensive issues where factual knowledge from science intersects with strongly held values.

This interface is difficult for science, since the language and operating rules of both make them seem like foreign languages to each other. It is important to explore these issues to find how science may make a more effective contribution, in situations where all interests do not necessarily welcome its messages.


3. On Leadership


By Dr Bek Christensen, PCT Programs Director

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”  Mary Anne Radmacher

One of the privileges of being Programs Director at the PCT is having a front-row seat to witness many acts of courage from our Program participants, Fellows and Friends. Some of those acts come with a roar and many come as quiet voices who have the courage to:

  • Be the lone voice of dissent in a group;
  • Re-think, unlearn and re-learn previously fixed positions;
  • Operate from your values, even when it’s unpopular;
  • Be vulnerable without apology;
  • Listen; and
  • Keep trying.

These acts may seem small, and yet they have profound impacts on those who experience them.

2024 Fellows Connection To Country Program

It is many small acts of courage like this that have enabled the development of PCT’s new 2024 Fellows Connection to Country Program. This Program presents an opportunity for participants to understand and engage with Indigenous people and worldviews in respectful ways, and to plot new paths forward for water and environment management. Co-designed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous PCT Fellows and staff, we hope this Program is the beginning of more Indigenous-led and co-designed initiatives for PCT and the Fellows Network.

Gwydir Gingham; image courtesy Brad Moggridge

Announced to Fellows in early November, we have already filled the available places on the Program with a waitlist forming! If you’re a Fellow who is interested in future iterations of this Program please sign up for the waitlist so we can keep you updated.

We look forward to sharing the stories and insights from this pilot Program with you all in 2024.

2023 Leadership Program (Women)

Moments of courage were also prevalent throughout the 2023 Leadership Program (Women), leading to the graduation of our newest group of 17 Fellows in Meanjin/Brisbane on 16 November. Congratulations to our newest Fellows!

L to R – Emma Finnie (Dept for Environment and Water); Jacki Thomson (MDBA); Winsome MacLaurin (Dept of Water and Environmental Regulation); Sarah Mika (University of New England); Letitia Baldwin (Power and Water Corporation); Penny Winbanks (Southern Rural Water); Melissa Pepper (Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC); Paula Hanasz (DCCEEW); Andrew White (DEECA); Amanda Best (Water Corporation); Sophie Baldwin (Southern Riverina Irrigators); Michele Groat (CEWO); Kate Cranney (Freelance); Bonnie Glaister (DEECA); Victoria Parkes (DCCEEW); Idske Galema (BOM); Emma Ligtermoet (CSIRO).

I’m grateful to PCT Fellows Matthew Fullerton and Ailsa Kerswell, along with local leaders Julie McLellan (CEO, Healthy Land and Water), Dr Kim Camrass (Director Climate Positive Brisbane 2032), and Clare Stewart (Mayor, Noosa Shire) for generously sharing their time, expertise, and experience with the cohort during the week.

For those unable to attend the graduation, I highly recommend catching up on the recording of the event including an excellent presentation from our graduating cohort (controversially declared by inaugural PCT Board Chair Prof John Thwaites AM as ‘the best ever’!).

View the Full Graduation Recording

Speaking Truth To Power – But Are They Listening

The November 2023 Graduation Address by Professor John Thwaites AM

In his motivating Graduation address ‘Speaking truth to power – but are they listening’, inaugural PCT Board Chair Professor John Thwaites AM highlighted the ever-increasing need for courageous leadership, along with practical insights on how to be effective in creating change.

Professor John Thwaites delivers the Graduation Address, November 2023

View the Graduation Address


Playing the long game – the legacy of The Hon Professor John Thwaites AM

By PCT CEO, Darryl Day

At the Leadership Graduation in November 2023, John Thwaites was awarded lifetime Honorary Membership of the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust.   This status is a fitting tribute for John’s outstanding commitment to and leadership of the Trust and is only the second time that lifetime membership has been presented.

The Hon Professor John Thwaites AM receives Life Membership Award from Trust Chairperson, The Hon Karlene Maywald


On science, politics, pragmatism and harsh reality: reflections on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and its implementation.

Speaker – David Papps AM

The annual Peter Cullen Memorial Lecture, delivered by Griffith University, the University of Canberra and the Peter Cullen Trust, was presented in Brisbane on 15 November 2023. 

Fellow Fiona Dyer (2021) introduced the speaker.

Introduction – Fiona Dyer

“Although Peter has been gone for 15 years now, his influence is still profound – in the people he taught, in the lives he touched, the policy and management he influenced and the writings he left us.

As a young PhD student with the CRC for Catchment Hydrology, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a very small amount of time with Peter. Two pieces of advice remain with me: the importance of stepping outside our comfort zones; and the impact one can have by taking opportunities to engage with the community and decision makers.

And so I think it is fitting that each year, the Cullen Trust supports the opportunity to be challenged and engaged through the Cullen Lecture.

Tonight, it is my pleasure this evening to introduce to you Mr David Papps, who is to deliver this year’s Peter Cullen Lecture.”



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

Associate Professor Bradley Moggridge (2018)

UTS Alumni 2023 – Indigenous Australian Alumni Award

The Trust congratulates Brad Moggridge on this award.  Brad says that “Receiving this recognition from UTS is such a significant career moment. Thinking back, the Masters degree has allowed me to know and understand groundwater from a science perspective, providing the opportunity to connect with cultural knowledge from my Kamilaroi Country and now share that with the world.”

Associate Professor Brad Moggridge receives the Indigenous Australian Alumni Award from UTS

4. Network News and Views

Fellows Committee – annual meeting 2023

By Matthew Fullerton (2013) on behalf of the Fellows Committee

The strength of the PCT Fellows Network is built on the efforts that Fellows make to stay engaged and to deliver a range of activities to engage with other Fellows. Holding the first ever PD Day outside of Canberra in Meanjin/Brisbane, Fellows came together for an Annual General Meeting of the Network to reflect on the year’s achievements and look forward to the opportunities that 2024 will bring. Quickly deciding that ‘AGM’ is far too formal a term, the meeting is really about Network Foundations which leads nicely into the Network Catalyst session that has become a feature of the PD Day agenda.

Members of the Fellows Committee – Trent Wallis, Andrew O’Neill, Paul Frazier, Matthew Fullerton, Kylie Climie, Jackie Luethi and Simone Stewart – with Fellows Network Coordinator Lesley Ryall at the 2023 Annual Meeting

Professional Development Day in Meanjin

From Andrew O’Neill (2017), Kim Markwell (2015) and Sonia Wood (2022)

When the Trust declared it was taking Graduation Week “on the road”, there was some trepidation about what this might mean for Fellows PD Day.  If we built it, would they come?

On a delightful Brisbane morning, our fears were allayed when 40 intrepid Fellows filled the room at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, our first foray into this space.  The energy was palpable.

Leaders all – the gathering of Fellows at the November 2023 PD Day in Brisbane/Meanjin

In the months prior, a small group of fellows (Matthew Fullerton (2013), Kim Markwell (2015), Andrew O’Neill (2017) and Sonia Wood (2022) formed the organising committee to plan the content for PD Day and decided to increase awareness within the PCT Fellows cohort about the potential role, the benefits and the risks of environmental markets. 

Our provocation was that in Australia today we face unprecedented challenges to the environmental order from climate change, water scarcity, and habitat loss. Regulation has not stopped harm; likewise patchy and insufficient grant funding has not halted the decline.


Where are they now?

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

Meg Humphrys (2022)

Meg Humphrys has moved from her role at Westernport Water as the Climate Change & Environment Advisor and her secondment at DEECA (Victoria’s Department of Energy, Environment & Climate Action) where she was working to implement the Victorian Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan, on to her current role as the Liveable Communities Advisor at Water Services Association of Australia. 

This role supports Network Groups and Communities of Practice across Australia and New Zealand, covering climate change- mitigation & adaptation, energy, environment, circular economy, water security, integrated water management & planning. WSAA works across the water industry to foster knowledge sharing & collaboration. Get in touch with Meg if you would like to find out more.

Connect with Meg on 0418 406 307 or

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


  • May – Peter Cullen Trust 15th anniversary event
  • 22-24 May – Graduation Week events, Canberra


  • 17-22 March – Leadership Program Session 1
  • 19-24 May – Leadership Program Session 2


  • 30 January – Business Development and Philanthropy Committee
  • 7 February – Audit, Finance and Risk Committee
  • 15 February – PCT Board


  • 2 February – World Wetlands Day
  • 21 February – International Mother Language Day
  • 3 March – World Wildlife Day
  • 22 March – World Water Day


2024 Connected by Water – 28 February – 1 March 2024; Perth

AWA presents the inaugural Connected by Water conference, bringing together a national and international audience to discuss sustainable water management in the West. The bi-annual Young Water Professionals Conference is combined with Connected by Water, offering a unique opportunity for the sectors Young Professionals to reach a broader audience..


6. Across the Sector

CGIAR – Professor Andrew Campbell steps in

Friend of the Trust and former board member Andrew Campbell concluded his statutory seven-year term as CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) at the end of July, intending to ‘retire’ to his farm near Cavendish in western Victoria.

Those plans were deferred when he was asked to step in as Interim Executive Managing Director of the CGIAR, based in Montpellier, France, pending the commencement in the role in December 2023 of Dr Ismahane Elouafi, currently Chief Scientist of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

The CGIAR is a collaboration between 13 international agricultural research centres, which together employ around 9700 staff in more than 80 countries, mostly in the developing world.  Its 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy is focused on transforming food, land and water systems in a climate crisis, and it has an annual budget approaching US$1 billion. Australians have played leading roles in many parts of the CGIAR System over more than 50 years, as Board Chairs, Directors General and research leaders of centers including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), WorldFish, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT).  Australia, through ACIAR, is one of the ten largest donors to the CGIAR system.

Professor Campbell’s 16-week interim role entails overseeing a Unified Governance Review of the CGIAR system, progressing the development of the 2025-27 CGIAR Research Portfolio, organizing a biannual meeting of the CGIAR System Council in Rabat, overseeing planning for the CGIAR presence at COP28 in Dubai, and the induction and on-boarding process for the incoming EMD, Dr Elouafi.

Andrew Campbell – somewhere near the medieval village of St Guilhem Le Desert

7. Interesting Stuff

Articles, Publications and Presentations

Changes in Magnitude and Shift in Timing of Australian Flood Peaks

By Bari, M.A.; Amirthanathan, G.E.; Woldemeskel, F.M.; Feikema, P.M (2017). 

Published in Water 2023, 15, 3665.

We present changes in timing and magnitude of maximum flow peaks for 596 stations across Australia. Regionally significant increasing and decreasing trends in flow peak magnitude were apparent in northern Australia and Murray Darling Basin, respectively. Weaker seasonality (lower R) was detected for the Murray-Daring Basin, while stronger seasonality (higher R) was evident in northern Australia, south-west of WA, SA, Victoria and Tasmania. Timing of peaks (S) are in February-March and August-October in the northern and southern Australia, respectively.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ voices and engagement in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Advice to inform the Australian Government towards IPCC Assessment Report 7

By Lansbury, N., Moggridge, B. (2018), Creamer, S., Ireland, L., Buckley, L., Evans, G., Milsom, O., Pecl, G., and Mosby, V., 2023

An independent report commissioned by the Australian Government (Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water), Canberra.


Orienting the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste toward Indigenous Knowledge

By Ataria, J. A., M. Murphy, D. McGregor, S. Chiblow, B. J. Moggridge (2018), D. C. H. Hikuroa, L. A. Tremblay, G. Öberg, V. Baker, and B. W. Brooks. 2023.

Here we consider examples of interconnected guiding philosophies from the cultural contexts of Indigenous contributing authors who are diverse globally yet share common sustainability principles. We submit that Indigenous knowledge and practices offer effective and compelling frameworks, values, and principles for the promotion and protection of public health and the environment and better orient the prevention of future pollution problems that matter to all of us.


Two-eyed seeing: indigenous values for climate resilient water management

With Associate Professor Brad Moggridge (2018) at World Water Week SIWI, Stockholm Sweden, 20th-24th August 2023.

Across the world, First Nations’ participation in water management is increasingly viewed as an opportunity to address contemporary and future issues. Case studies from Indigenous People from the Indo-Pacific and Sweden will be shared to inform how growing recognition of the importance of Indigenous spiritual, social and customary values can influence water policy and management, along with the protection of those values. Case studies of diverse journeys from Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, the Pacific and Sweden will demonstrate how First Peoples’ values and knowledge on environment and water is being used in practice to inform water management decisions.

Climate impacts can result in Indigenous communities losing traditional sources of food and medicines, affecting sacred sites and reduced economic development opportunities. Yet, these communities are not simply victims of the effects of climate change, but also agents of environmental conservation, water management and drivers of adaptation and resilience. Traditional ecological knowledge has often been developed from living in marginal and challenging environments, where mitigation and adaptation strategies are implemented as part of ancestral or traditional natural resources management passed down over generations.


Watering the NDCS Innovative approaches to achieving water smart climate resilience

With Associate Professor Brad Moggridge (2018) at World Water Week SIWI, Stockholm Sweden, 20th-24th August 2023.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries make voluntary national climate commitments called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs are important as they outline what a country intends to do to address climate change challenges, along with the resources that are required to achieve this. While many NDCs mention water, most do not yet include it in a meaningful or measurable way. We will use this session to launch two new publications that look at the complex role of water in national climate commitments and planning. First, we will frame the discussion using SIWI’s in-depth analysis of the water content included in over 125 NDCs to identify broad trends, gaps, good practices, and opportunities for the enhancement of water resilience in the next round of NDCs.

We will dig deeper into several NDCs featured in AGWA’s new “Watering the NDCs” country report to take an in-depth look at these commitments in action and hear from country representatives from five pilot countries utilizing the “Watering the NDCs concepts” – including India, Guatemala, Tanzania, Bolivia, Tajikistan – who give first-hand accounts of their efforts to incorporate water resilience into their national commitments and plans.


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