Bridging issue #57

Rosie Wheen
This first edition of Bridging for the year has a focus on Wetlands. It has bubbled up some important contributions from Fellows-in-the-field, and I commend their work to your attention. 2024 is the Trust’s 15th Anniversary year, and I’m thrilled to share details of two milestone events we are planning for May in Canberra. Flick to the Diary Dates for these announcements and save those dates in your own calendars. And what a privilege to share this first month of my time at the Trust with the Chair-elect, Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO and to showcase her remarkable worklife journey later in this edition of Bridging.

1. From the Chief Executive Officer

By Rosie Wheen

My first day as CEO of the Trust was at our office, hosted by the University of Canberra. Being on Ngunnawal country is a return home as it is where I was born.

As I join the Trust I am often asked where have I come from? As a passionate water and community development leader, I served most recently as CEO of WaterAid Australia, a global organisation dedicated to providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. I also serve as Chair of Many Coloured Sky, an organisation that supports LGBTQI+ organisations with capacity building, planning and project development, and empowers those at the margins and intersections of LGBTQI+ communities to participate fully and equally. I am a founding member of Not in My Workplace, a coalition of women leaders working to prevent sexual harassment in the Workplace. I am a proud parent of two (almost) grown up children and we are a foster family.

When I reflect on my own leadership journey, my thoughts turn to the incredible lessons we can take from the leadership of the outgoing CEO and Chair of the Trust.

Darryl has made an immeasurable impact on the water sector in Australia and globally. His leadership and his legacy show us the strength and value of kindness. I know that many of you have experienced Darryl’s kindness and wisdom – a mentoring call, a nudge to take a courageous career leap or to chair a groundbreaking session at Singapore Water Week of Ozwater.

The passing of the CEO baton; Rosie Wheen and Darryl Day, 1 February 2024.

The Trust’s purpose is to foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment. We need look no further for our role model than outgoing Chair Karlene Maywald.

I encourage us all to go forth with more kindness and more courage.

Finally, thank you to the staff and all those who have made me so welcome already, and for your ongoing encouragement, support and courage as we work together to foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment.

I hope you enjoy the read.


2. In This Issue: Wetlands

Murrumbidgee wetland, watercolour on canvas, by Kath Bowmer (Friend of the Trust).

World Wetlands Day is a UN International Day acknowledged on 2 February, and an opportunity to give voice to wetlands around the globe. It marks the anniversary of the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971. This year, the theme is Wetlands and Human Wellbeing, inviting us to consider how all aspects of human wellbeing – physical, mental and environmental – are tied to the health of the world’s wetlands.

This issue of Bridging provides a platform for Fellows and Friends of the Trust who are working to secure a sustainable future for our wetlands.

Bowling Green Bay – a RAMSAR-listed wetland

From Jennifer Walker (2023)

NQ Dry Tropics is the NRM group for the Burdekin region, an area of some 146,000km2. One of our major biological assets is the Bowling Green Bay Ramsar-listed wetland, which was listed due to the migratory bird populations that use the area during their annual migrations (species of note include the threatened Eastern Curlew and the Red Knot).

As a result, the bay itself is a protected area (within Bowling Green Bay National Park) but the surrounding catchments that lead to the bay are not protected. In fact, the catchment creeks for the bay are located within one of the most productive sugarcane cropping areas in Australia, in an area between Ayr and Townsville.

The beauty of the Wongaloo wetlands adjacent to the Bowling Green Bay Ramsar area threatened by climate change. Image courtesy NQ Dry Tropics NRM.
+ READ MORE

Lake Victoria

From Natalie Dando (2016)

Lake Victoria (Tar-Ru) is not quite a wetland, but a natural freshwater lake, in southwest NSW, and is crucial for water management in the River Murray system.

Northern Shore, Lake Victoria. Image courtesy Bottlebrush Media 2023.

‘Lake Victoria is such a special place to the Barkindji-Maraura people. This is the place where my great grandmother grew up, so this is very much like my home.

‘It’s a sacred place as one of the biggest cemeteries in Australia. I am so pleased our community has been heard in developing the Aboriginal heritage impact permit to further protect our cultural heritage for future generations.’

Quote attributed to Tamika Smith, Barkindji-Maraura Elders Council
+ READ MORE

The Management of Fortescue Marsh

From Melissa Pepper (2023)

When people think of Western Australia’s Pilbara region they don’t often think of wetlands. Nonetheless, this semi-arid environment is home to a vast ephemeral wetland of regional and national significance. Fortescue Marsh sits in the Fortescue River valley between the Chichester and Hamersley Ranges, about 100km north of the town of Newman.

Fortescue Marsh – 14 Mile Yinda.  Image courtesy Mel Pepper.
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United

By Michele Groat (2023)

Fellow Michele Groat works in wetlands (they are her happy place). She wrote this poem as one of her PCT Leadership Program tasks.

Egret, North Redbank.  Image courtesy Michele Groat.
+ READ POEM

3. On Leadership

LEADING CHANGE

It is no coincidence that the very short list of people who have sat in the Chair of the Peter Cullen Trust are what Chair-elect Cynthia Mitchell might describe as “good ancestors”.

And there is no doubt that the Trust has been the beneficiary of the vision, dedication and leadership that the Hon Professor John Thwaites AM (2009-2019) and the Hon Karlene Maywald (2019-2024) have brought to the role. Their legacy of courageous and ethical leadership underpins every day at the Trust. We often ask ourselves “what would Peter do”. We also hold ourselves accountable to the standards and the aspirations set by John and Karlene.

On 15 February, the Trust Board will meet to endorse the next changing of the guard, when it says farewell and thank you to outgoing Chair the Hon Karlene Maywald and formally appoints Chair-elect Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO. If it’s possible to raise the bar for us, Cynthia will be the leader to do that.

The following reflections from Karlene Maywald, Darryl Day and Cynthia Mitchell mark this significant period of leadership transition.

Message from the Chair

It is with mixed emotions that I write my last contribution to Bridging as Chair of the Peter Cullen Trust.  Sad to be leaving the role, but very excited for what the future holds!!

I would like to thank Darryl Day for his stewardship of the Trust as CEO through the challenging times presented by Covid and for his leadership during our transition to an organisation driven and held in Trust by our Fellows.

The Trust is so fortunate to have an incredible Team of exceptional professionals that work tirelessly to provide the most challenging and life changing leadership experiences for our Fellows.  Bek, Lesley and Linda consistently go above and beyond to enable the Trust to have an extraordinary reach and this will only continue to grow as we embrace the next strategic phase of the Trust.

We now have over 280 leaders from across Australia who have graduated from the program and the Friends of the Trust now number 170.

This is a powerhouse of leadership and influence across the water sector and beyond. Our opportunity is to mobilise this incredible depth of expertise and intellect to improve policy outcomes in an ever-changing environment.

I am confident that our incoming Chair, Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO and CEO, Rosie Wheen are just the duo to take the solid foundation of the Trust to new heights.

Whilst my ever-growing international work commitments are the reason I am stepping down as Chair, it is by no means the end to my association with this truly incredible organisation. I will be continuing as a Friend to support the PCT leadership team and in particular, I’ll be working with the Friends of the Trust to activate our participation in developing the next generation of leaders and influencers in water and climate change.   Friends, be on the lookout for more information later in the year and be prepared to roll up your sleeves in support!!

All the very best for 2024 – I know it will be a very exciting time for the Peter Cullen Trust.

A Champion of Water – thank you Karlene Maywald

By Darryl Day

Since November 2019, our esteemed Chairperson, the Hon Karlene Maywald has led the Board of the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust, steering us through the challenges of COVID-19, transforming the Board and Board Committees to be Fellows led, and championing deeper engagement with Friends and Fellows. She is an inspiration and generous mentor with a passion to advance the Trust’s purpose to “foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment”.

Our inaugural Chairperson (2009 – 2019), The Hon John Thwaites AM, acknowledged the incredible standing and achievements of Karlene at the November 2023 Graduate Address.  John said that “there is no one who knows more about water than Karlene. And not only about water, but about the whole context and the people – irrigators, environmentalists, politicians – and she is able to bring together all of her skills to get outcomes. If there is a Peter Cullen today, it is Karlene.” High praise indeed. (You can listen to John’s address HERE.)

Inside the Trust, Karlene has not only driven renewal of Directors from the alumni of Fellows, but has strengthened engagement between the Board and Fellows through her initiative to include two observers from the Fellows Committee at Trust Board meetings. The results reflect Karlene’s passion for inclusiveness and for the ongoing development of those she works with.

Karlene also championed the establishment of the new role and work of the Fellows Network Coordinator and has been extraordinarily generous with her time supporting the Trust’s engagement with partners, donors, sponsors and supporters. Karlene’s network nationally and internationally is exceptional as is her commitment to widening the conversation on water to other sectors including climate, biodiversity, food security and energy transition to low carbon.

The retiring CEO, Darryl Day, said that he was “always amazed at Karlene’s boundless energy, sharp intellect and capacity to contextualise complex issues. As Chairperson, Karlene always found time to get to know everyone she met, no matter what the situation. Connecting people, and exploring issues from their perspective, is Karlene’s superpower”.

Karlene’s last Board meeting will be on 15 February 2024 when her term as Director expires. Her legacy as an exceptional leader has no expiry date.

INTRODUCING CYNTHIA MITCHELL

Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO delivers the 2022 Science to Policy Leadership Program Graduation Address.

When we asked Friend of the Trust and Chair-elect Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO why she has taken on the role of Chair of the Peter Cullen Trust, and why now, this is what she said.

The situation: The word ‘unprecedented’ has never had so much use as it has in the last 8 months or so, as our global climate data veered off course and stayed there. The very clear signal our planet is giving us is that we need to head in a different direction and we need to do it now. The evidence is abundantly clear and literally growing by the day – globally renowned scientists have declared we are now in uncharted territory.

The Trust: Alongside that is the deep and rich history of the Peter Cullen Trust with its central tenet to foster courageous leadership, and to speak truth to power. Already some 280 Fellows are out in the world, doing just that. My sense, and I know many others share this view, is that there is enormous latent potential energy in the Trust… like a coiled spring…

Me: Since making the commitment a few years ago to be a ‘good ancestor’, in line with Daverick Leggett’s heartwarming and heartwrenching poem of that name, I’ve explicitly encapsulated the intention of my work as being about guiding and mentoring the transformations we know we need.

So if our best guess is that we have just a few years in which to make enough of a difference to give those who will come after us the opportunity to enjoy a planet worth living on, then taking on the role of Chair at the Peter Cullen Trust to help deliver on its potential is both a perfect fit and a powerful opportunity.

We need leaders who have the courage to bear witness to what is already here, with the reflexivity to be able to step back and not only reflect on our ‘doing’, but also think about our thinking – to recognise how our patterns and worldviews can accidentally and implicitly have profound unintended consequences.

And above all, we need leaders who can listen deeply and who welcome difference as a gift.

Leaders such as these can play across every octave of worklife, deftly choosing the perfect key to harmonise with the situation at hand.

For decades, my reason for being has been to tilt the world just a little bit more towards regenerative and sustainable futures – to create net positive outcomes for people and planet. Whilst I’ve been honoured with all manner of accolades and awards along the way, what matters to me is that collectively – with my incredible clients/collaborators/teams and through our joined-up willingness to exercise courage and bravery and do things differently – we have indeed been able to make a difference in the world, to make the world a better place. Here’s to more of that!

+ READ MORE: CYNTHIA’S WORKLIFE JOURNEY CONTINUES HERE

LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS 2023/2024

By Dr Bek Christensen, PCT Programs Director

2024 PCT Leadership Program

We have a group of 18 participants joining this year’s PCT Leadership Program, which commences with Session One from 18-22 March, on Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri Country.

As usual our group includes people from almost every State and Territory, and a range of organisations and professions. Many of the group know or work alongside PCT Fellows, and at interview spoke of their observations of ‘something different’ about the Fellows they know, and their eagerness to take the opportunity of the Program to grow their leadership capability to contribute to the sector and the Australian community more broadly.

Session Two will take place at the Shine Dome from 20-24 May, with Graduation on Thursday 23 May – mark your calendars now and take a look elsewhere in this edition for details of other events for the PCT Community happening in that week.

2024 PCT Fellows Connection to Country Program

Gwydir Gingham. Image courtesy Brad Moggridge (2018).

We anticipated strong interest in this Program, and Fellows’ enthusiasm outstripped even our high expectations with all spots snapped up only two weeks after it launched. We will commence the Program with a series of online yarns throughout February and March, giving us the opportunity to listen and learn from each other alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from the Northern Basin. The in-person and on-Country week will then take place 7-11 April 2024, where we will have the opportunity to learn alongside community and Country, including some of the wetlands of the Northern Murray-Darling Basin.

It’s a privilege to read some of the personal motivations for Fellows who are joining this Program, which include:

  • Time to slow down and listen deeply to the wisdom of the First Peoples of Australia.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous water management practices and perspectives.
  • Enhance my competency in engaging and leading appropriately and respectfully in matters affecting First Nations people.
  • Listen, learn, understand and be better equipped to have a greater impact in the work I do in the future walking with and partnering with First Nations communities.

One of our participants also rightly recognised that “the collective impact that can be achieved through coming together for programs like this is very powerful.”

We look forward to sharing more with the PCT Community about this Program as it unfolds over the coming months.

PCT leadership for One Basin CRC research project

We’re pleased to share that PCT is a key partner in delivery of the three-year ‘Understanding Future Leadership Needs’ research project approved for funding under the One Basin CRC. Led by Dr Hannah Feldman at ANU, this project will develop tangible, research-informed recommendations for enabling leadership across the many complex domains and industries that exist in the Basin (cultural, geographical, etc.), and output resources for workshops and training to enable this learning.

We are just at the kick off phase now and will share more about the project across the coming years. We also expect to draw on the wisdom and experience of the PCT community throughout the project. If you’d like to know more about the project please contact Bek (bek@petercullentrust.com.au). For more information about the CRC please visit: https://onebasin.com.au/

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS

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

Dr Sandra Brizga (2012)

PCT Fellow, Dr Sandra Brizga (2012) has been appointed as a Council Member of the Birrarung Council.  The Birrarung Council is a statutory entity that advises the Victorian Minister for Water and advocates for the protection and wellbeing of the Birrarung (Yarra River). The Council represents a new approach to environment protection, in the Victorian and national context, in serving as a ‘voice for the river’. The Council is a bi-cultural public entity, in which Traditional Owners, community and skills-based members work together to support the protection of Country.

Ray Ison (Friend of the Trust)

The 2023 GN Alexander Medal for Hydrology and Water Resources was awarded to Ray Ison and colleagues Naomi Rubenstein, Maddie Shelton and the late Phil Wallis (2018) for their paper ‘Dramaturgies for Re-imagining Murray-Darling Basin governing’ and published in the Australasian Journal of Water Resources. This award was made by the Institution of Engineers Australia’s National Committee on Water Engineering.

NEW FRIENDS OF THE TRUST

The Trust is proud to welcome eight new Friends of the Trust, outstanding individuals who share our commitment to courageous leadership in water and environment.

Professor Richard Kingsford, UNSW

Professor Richard Kingsford is a conservation biologist who has worked extensively across the wetlands and rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. He is the Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW Sydney. He works with many different communities and governments across Australia on management of ecosystems. He also works on adaptive management and reintroductions, leading the Wild Deserts project. His research has influenced conservation policy and management, including through involvement on state and federal advisory committees. He chairs the Society for Conservation Biology’s Global Governance Committee and is a Director on the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania Board.

Diane Tarte, Marine Ecosystem Policy Advisors

Diane Tarte is Director of Marine Ecosystem Policy Advisors providing advice on policy and programs addressing research and management of marine, coastal and catchment areas with a particular focus on ecosystem-based management of catchments, waterways and fisheries. Over the past 45 years she has been involved in the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef and Australian tidal wetland areas, the development of government planning and management policies and legislation focusing on integrated coastal zone management and Oceans Policy, and the involvement of the community in the management of marine protected areas, coastal wetland reserves and rehabilitation of riparian zones. She is a Non-Executive Director for Alluvium Holdings and Alluvium Consulting Australia; chairs the board of TierraMar Ltd/OceanEarth Foundation and the technical working group for three Great Barrier Reef regional report card partnerships; and is a member of the Reef 2050 Plan Advisory Committee and CSIRO’s Environment Advisory Group.

Rob Gell AM

Rob is a coastal geomorphologist by training, who taught Physical Geography and Environmental Science at Melbourne State College and Melbourne University, before a thirty-one year career presenting television weather in parallel with a career as an environmental consultant. He is a director of a range of sustainable technology companies, President of the Royal Society of Victoria, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an Inaugural Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand and a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to conservation, to the protection of coastal and marine environments, and to the community.

Adam Lovell, WSAA

Adam is the Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), the peak body for water utilities in Australia and New Zealand, a position he commenced in 2011.  Prior to his current role, Adam developed an extensive water industry career including roles at Anglian Water (UK), University of Sydney and Sydney Water, primarily in research and innovation. Adam provides national leadership in policy positions for the Australian water sector on issues including industry reform, water security and quality, climate change, customer and community engagement and First Nations water services. Adam also holds a non-executive Board role for the Global Water Research Coalition and is a member of a number of state and national advisory committees.

Dr Allan Dale, JCU

Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University and Chief Scientist for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). Allan has a strong interest in integrated societal governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world, northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. He leads JCU’s contributions to Queensland’s Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE), Queensland’s Communities in Transition Program and emerging new approaches to Collective Impact for Social Development. He works extensively with governments, regional and local communities on issues related to economic, social and Indigenous development, water and natural resource management. Allan is Deputy Chair of the Premier’s Queensland Plan Ambassador Council. He was previously the Chair of Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait (RDA FNQ&TS) and the ex-CEO of Terrain NRM.

Kaj Lofgren, Regen Melbourne

Kaj (pronounced Kai) is the CEO of Regen Melbourne, an engine for ambitious collaboration, in service of Melbourne. Our purpose is to create a resilient and regenerative Melbourne, for our kids and future generations. Powered by an alliance of more than 180 organisations,  Regen Melbourne is the catalyst and host of a portfolio of bold projects that are moving Melbourne towards a regenerative future.  Kaj is also the Entrepreneur in Residence at Small Giants Academywhere he collaborates on the Academy’s education and storytelling initiatives. A Civil Engineer by training, Kaj holds a Masters of Economic History from Lund University and has previously worked in social enterprise, impact investment and community development with Engineers Without Borders.

Toss Gascoigne

Toss is a global specialist in science communication. He has run hundreds of training workshops in Australia, the Pacific and 25 other countries including Germany, Kenya, Columbia, India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea. These workshops have focussed on science communication, how to reach different audiences and explain complex concepts.  

From 1995-2010, Toss served as Executive Director for three national organisations: the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS); the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS); and Australian Science Innovations (ASI). He worked as CEO to Peter Cullen for his two terms as President of FASTS.

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Dr Anthony Boxshall, Science into Action

Dr Anthony Boxshall is a marine ecologist by trade who has worked in Australia and the USA across Government, academia and private industry. He is the Founder and Principal of Science into Action, a science impact company turning great science into greater actions. He is a Board Director of Parks Victoria and was the valedictory Chair of the Victorian Coastal Council. He is the current Chair of the Victorian Marine and Coastal Council. A former National President of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA – the largest learned society for professional marine scientists in Australia), he has worked at UC Santa Cruz USA, Deakin University, and has been on several innovation Boards. A current Melbourne Enterprise Fellow in the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne (with the title Assoc. Professor), he ran the Science area at the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Victoria for nearly a decade. He is a problem solver and strategist. As a hobby, he has communicated the wonders of the marine and coastal environment to a broad audience through the award-winning “Radio Marinara” on 3RRR-FM in Melbourne since late 1996. He is a dad to 4 children who continually amaze, inspire, frustrate and leave him in awe of the potential of the future and hence more determined to leave a positive aquatic, coastal and marine legacy.


4. Network News and Views

Fellows Committee

The new year sees some new faces joining the Fellows Committee, a dynamic group of leaders who are shaping the program of ongoing development opportunities for the Fellows Network.  In 2024, the Fellows Committee is:

Andrew O’NeillQLD2017
Cath AtkinsonACT2022
Chris GoldingACT2022
Grace Rose-MillerVIC2017
Jackie LuethiACT2022
Kim MarkwellQLD2015
Kylie ClimieNT2022
Maria RosierQLD2023
Matthew FullertonQLD2013
Sarah MikaNSW2023
Simone StewartSA2021
Trent WallisVIC2017
Vanessa MoscovisWA2022

On behalf of the Trust and the Fellows Network, we acknowledge and thank retiring Committee members Deb Bower (NSW, 2019), Monique White (SA, 2015), Paul Frazier (NSW, 2012) and Simon Treadwell (Vic, 2011).  Someone noted recently that the Trust is a bit like the Hotel California, and in that spirit we don’t expect that our departing Committee members will ever truly leave!  For now though, we give a hearty three cheers to these stalwarts of the fellowship.

NATIONAL WEBINAR SERIES

Law and Lore

Wednesday 17 April, 12.30-2.00pm AEST

Unpacking some of the challenges that we face in water law, justice, policy and collective wisdom in the face of a changing climate.

Presenters:

  • Prof Jennifer McKay, Professor of Business Law – Justice and Society, Uni SA, Friend of the Trust
  • Dr Madeleine Hartley (2017), Churchill Fellow 2019, Manager, Policy and Regulatory Strategy, Water NSW
  • Prof Anne Poelina (2011), Co-Chair of Indigenous Studies, Nulungu Research Institute, Uni Notre Dame

Registrations for this event will open in early March.

LUNCH WITH A LEADER SERIES

ACT Lunch with a Leader – Andrew McConville, Chief Executive of the MDBA

By Nicole Vonarx (2023)

On Tuesday 5 December, a beautiful sunny day in Canberra, I prepared myself for my first lunch with a leader session, where we would hear from Andrew McConville the Chief Executive of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.

After some quick networking and introductions, we settled in to listen to Andrew’s journey as a leader. One of the first things that struck me was Andrew’s openness to share his insights and experiences, not just in his current role as CE of the MDBA – arguably one of the most difficult water related jobs in Australia – but also through the various personal and professional challenges he has dealt with through the years.

+ READ MORE

VIC FELLOWS END OF YEAR GATHERING

It has become our habit to have the end of year gathering on days of ridiculously inclement weather.  But we are Victorians, and intrepid, so on 29 November a goodly number found our way to a decent bar in the heart of our city, where we welcomed incoming CEO Rosie Wheen to the Trust and to the Fellows Network.

Huge thanks to Karen White (2021) and Alanna Wright (2021), our Melbourne City Leads, for harnessing their power and chaperoning us through another valuable and fun night of networking and celebration.

Vic Fellows welcome Rosie Wheen to the Trust.

WA FELLOWS AND FRIENDS END OF YEAR GATHERING

WA Fellows and a Friend met at the State Library café for a sunny breakfast gathering on the 1st December. Ground and Co. where we met is a social enterprise café and they make pretty good coffee too!

The purpose of the breakfast was to welcome new Fellows, and there is quite a group based in WA to be welcomed!

When they passed the rigorous graduation process in Brisbane in November, new WA based Fellows include:

  • Melissa Pepper – Pilbara
  • Kate Cranney – Perth
  • Emma Ligtermoet – Perth
  • Amanda Best – Perth
  • Winsome MacLaurin – Perth

It was a cheerful breakfast as we welcomed new Fellows and welcomed back Stacey Hamilton from her Churchill Fellowship travels (more on that later as that will be the subject of our first lunch in 2024!).

In the group photo, sitting outside WA Museum Boola Bardip, from left to right in the back row: 
Kate Cranney, our new recruit, Emma Ligtermoet, Amanda Bell, and Winsome MacLaurin. 
In the front row: Lijun Mo, Stacey Hamilton, Brett Dunn, Susan Worley and Kath Broderick.

FELLOWS IN THE NEWS

Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (2014)

PCT Director Dr Lisa Ehrenfried and her fellow Fellow Dr Jill Fagan (2017) were joint recipients of the Minister’s Climate Innovation Challenge 2023, for their project exploring low-carbon concrete for the water industry.

Hayley Vinden from Barwon Water, Dr Lisa Ehrenfried from Yarra Valley Water and Dr Jill Fagan from North East Water won the Minister’s Climate Innovation Challenge 2023. Image courtesy Yarra Valley Water.

READ MORE

Jennifer Walker (2023)

Jen hasn’t changed jobs, but has been recognised by UNSW for their emerging leaders program.  Jen believes ethical leadership, and leading with integrity is an essential aspect of management in the NRM sector.

READ MORE

Where are They now?

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

Nerida Horner (2021)

Nerida was formerly with CSIRO for 8 years in Land and Water and Environment business units, working on collaborative research to inform the sustainable development of northern Australia.  She have now joined the NT Dept of Environment, Parks and Water Security as Executive Director Office of Water Security.

Nerida’s new role is to lead implementation of a range of strategic water reforms in the NT over the coming three years, as outlined in the Territory Water Plan released in June 2023.  The 16 priority actions in the plan span water planning, water management, drinking water quality, Aboriginal voices in water decisions, water security and more.

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 lesley@petercullentrust.com.au.


5. Diary Dates

THE PETER CULLEN TRUST 15TH ANNIVERSARY – MAY 2024

The Boat House Dinner – 22 May 2024

Save The Date

To celebrate 15 years “fostering courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment” the Board of the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust will host a formal dinner at The Boat House, Canberra, on Wednesday 22 May 2024.

The Dinner will be a unique opportunity to discuss Peter Cullen’s transformative influence with founders of the Trust, hear from Fellows who are the beneficiaries of the Trust and focus on tackling big challenges in water and environment.

This will be a ticketed event for 100 guests.  The program, including speaker details, will follow in early March, at which time individual registrations will open.  Limited sponsorship opportunities are available on request to lesley@petercullentrust.com.au

The Water Symposium – 23 May 2024 – a Nationally Significant Conversation

Save The Date

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.

  • When:  Thursday, 23 May 2024; 8.15am-4.00pm
  • Where:  TBC, Canberra

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, across those themes, small groups will debate the priorities for change, reflect on their individual and collective leadership challenges to implement change and develop a joint statement plus a list of priority actions. We aim to reach agreement on realising outcomes from these priority actions.

The Water Symposium will be free to attend for Fellows and Friends 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.

The program will follow in early March, at which time individual registrations will open.  Limited sponsorship opportunities are available on request to lesley@petercullentrust.com.au

PCT EVENTS

  • 17 April – National Webinar – Law and Lore
  • 22-24 May – Graduation Week events, Canberra

PCT PROGRAMS

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

PCT GOVERNANCE

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

GLOBAL

  • 3 March – World Wildlife Day
  • 22 March – World Water Day
  • 22 April – International Mother Earth Day

CONFERENCES AND SEMINARS

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

The inaugural Connected by Water conference, presented by the Australian Water Association, will bring together a national and international audience to discuss sustainable water management in the West.  The Connected by Water program will focus on the way water underpins economic prosperity, communities, the environment and Indigenous connection to Country, and is an opportunity to discuss the intersection of water with other sectors.

For full program information and to register, click HERE.

Ozwater – 30 April-2 May 2024 – Melbourne

The 2024 theme Accelerating Action is a rally cry to our community addressing the vital role water must play in the climate crisis of our current time. Together, we will ignite a powerful movement towards a sustainable water future. Ozwater’24 will take concrete steps to effect lasting change. 
We will explore actionable strategies that empower individuals, organisations, and governments to make a tangible impact.

Early Bird Registration is now open. Visit Ozwater ’24 for more information.

IWRA 1st Islands Water Congress – September 4-6, 2024 – Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

The International Water Resources Association’s (IWRA) Islands Water Congress is a new high-level global event organised in collaboration with a different island host every two years. For the first edition, IWRA has partnered with the Faroese Geological Survey (Jarðfeingi), and the event will be held in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands, from the 4 to 6 September 2024.

The theme of the first edition will be ‘Freshwater and Islands: Administration, Collaboration and Innovation’. The aim of this and subsequent congresses is to develop a body of learning that will boost freshwater opportunities and advance solutions to freshwater challenges in island contexts.

Water managers, policy-makers, researchers and other specialists can connect with peers, learn about innovations, and gain insights into unique island water challenges, programs and research across the globe.

Find out more and register here:  https://islandswatercongress.org/

Find out more about IWRA and its free membership offer at: https://www.iwra.org/

(For any additional questions, you can also contact PCT Friend, Gary Jones, who is also an IWRA Board member at: gjoneswater@gmail.com)


6. Across the Sector

Director – Partnerships and Engagement

The One Basin CRC is a focused research collaboration developing policy, technical and financial solutions to support and reduce exposure to climate, water and environmental threats in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The One Basin CRC is looking for a Director – Partnerships and Engagement to join the team reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer. As part of the executive team, this key role provides strategic leadership across the organisation and is essential in setting and contributing to our culture and further strengthening our partnerships.

This role can be based in Melbourne, or regionally – Mildura, Loxton, Griffith or Goondiwindi…
For further information click HERE.

University of Canberra Vice Chancellor Paddy Nixon Resigns

From Professor Ross Thompson (2014)

On the 17th of January 2024, University of Canberra Professor Paddy Nixon stepped down from his position as University of Canberra’s Vice-Chancellor and President after 4 years.

Professor Nixon commenced his role as Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra in April 2020. Prior to joining the University of Canberra, Professor Nixon was Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University from 2015 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at the University of Tasmania from 2010.

Professor Nixon arrived at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and successfully navigated its challenges, before leading the development of the University’s decadal strategy, Connected.

“Being the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra has been an absolute privilege. The University has come so far in the last four, very challenging, years,” said Professor Nixon. “For personal reasons, I am taking a career break.”

During his time at the University of Canberra Professor Nixon supported the Peter Cullen Trust in its move to refurbished facilities adjacent to the Centre for Applied Water Science at the University and signed a new hosting agreement with UC.

The University is undertaking a global search to fill the Vice-Chancellor and President role and has appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Professor Lucy Johnston as an interim Vice Chancellor.


Seeking Members for the Nature Repair Committee – Closing 26 February 2024

The Australian Government is searching for applicants to join the new, statutory Nature Repair Committee and help create a nature positive Australia by providing independent advice on Australia’s world-leading Nature Repair Market.

Under the Nature Repair Act 2023, the Nature Repair Committee will provide independent expert advice to the Minister for the Environment and Water on the compliance of key elements of the market.

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Review of the NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Water Sharing Plan – Closing 25 February 2024

The Natural Resources Commission is conducting a review of the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers Water Sources 2016 (the Plan), before it expires on 30 June 2026. The review is being undertaken consistent with our statutory responsibilities under Section 43A of the NSW Water Management Act 2000.

This is your chance to comment on whether the Plan has achieved its environmental, social, economic and cultural outcomes. You are also invited to suggest any areas for improvement. The Commission welcomes feedback, with submissions closing on Sunday 25 February 2024.

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Restoring Our Rivers: Draft framework for delivering 450 GL of additional environmental water

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has released the Restoring our Rivers: draft framework for delivering the 450 GL of additional environmental water. 

Consultation on the draft framework is open now via the DCCEEW Have Your Say website to enable communities, industries, irrigators, First Nations, local councils and environmental groups to provide feedback.

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7. Interesting Stuff


Articles, Publications and Presentations

Indigenous engagement to support resilience: A case study from Kamilaroi Country (NSW, Australia).

By Moggridge, B.J., Thompson, R.M., 2024

Published in Thoms, M., Fuller, I. (Eds.), Resilience and Riverine Landscapes. Elsevier, Ch18 pp. 363–387. ISBN: 9780323917162

This chapter illustrates the potential for developing pathways to engage with Australian Indigenous peoples (Kamilaroi Country, northern NSW) to share knowledge and contribute to more resilient water management.

Note that Country in Indigenous Australian culture represents connection to traditional lands, water and sky landscapes linking to a range of physical and spiritual values that are associated with it. Relationship with Country does not separate the individual features of the landscape.

This chapter seeks to illustrate how First Peoples’ cultural knowledge, values and practices can be engaged with to inform water planning and management. A case study of the Gwydir Wetlands in northern New South Wales, Australia, is presented, and a framework for engaging with IEK to develop and support sustainable and resilient water management within that system is proposed.

Trajectories of Change – Murray-Darling Basin Riverine Tree Ecosystems

From Dr Tanya Doody (2015)

Published as Doody, T.M., McInerney, P.J., Thoms, M.C., Gao, S., 2024. Resilience and adaptive cycles in water-dependent ecosystems: Can panarchy explain trajectories of change among floodplain trees? In: Thoms, M., Fuller, I. (Eds.), Resilience and Riverine Landscapes. Elsevier, pp. 97–115. https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780323917162/resilience-and-riverine-landscapes

Image courtesy Tanya Doody.

The recently published book “Resilience and Riverine Landscapes” includes a book chapter presenting a novel method to assess trajectories of change in Murray-Darling Basin riverine tree ecosystems, providing new information to inform hydrological and ecosystem management.

Riverine ecosystems are very dynamic in response to hydrology and climatic changes. This includes floodplain and riparian tree ecosystems which increase and decrease tree biomass in response to water availability. Such dynamic change in tree canopies over time is important to build ecosystem resilience to disturbance and release nutrients to the riverine environment to support complex food webs. Riverine trees are thus very responsive to disturbance and can be representative of broader patterns in ecosystem alteration including changes in ecosystem function and integrity.

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