One of the benefits of working for the Peter Cullen Trust is the regular excuse it gives to spend time immersed in Peter’s writings. Fifteen years on from his passing, I remain struck by the relevance of this work – full of vision, questions, challenges, provocations, and insights that remain as powerful and needed today as when he first spoke or wrote them.
“Scholars tell us that “purpose”, both pragmatically and spiritually, is a declaration of why we exist. It is the cumulative effect of meaningful goals; the impact we want to have. It is our “why”.
In this edition of Bridging we launch our “why”, and illustrate it with a deep dive into the big issues confronting Australia’s water and environment leaders, including the conversations on National Water Reform and the Murray Darling Basin Plan, and the complex and existential challenges of planet earth through the eyes of Friends of the Trust, Professors Stuart Bunn and Emerita Cynthia Mitchell.”
“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.
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.
Best wishes to all leaders for a productive 2023. May your leadership inspire, speak truth to power and pay it forward. Already this year is shaping as a critical year for your voice.
November in Canberra has traditionally been a special time for the Trust. Meeting new Fellows at the Leadership Program Graduation and reconnecting with the family of Fellows and the wider Peter Cullen community is inspiring, regenerative and an opportunity for personal reflection. Peter would have been very proud of the leaders supported in his name.
“Never waste a crisis”. Wise words. Our Chair, the Hon Karlene Maywald, adds a prerequisite: “be prepared, have a visionary plan”. Ensure you seize the right opportunity in a crisis. For an organisation, being prepared includes having a strategic succession plan and investing in leaders who are ready for the opportunities that future crises will present.
The energy. The excitement. The relief! Graduation week in Canberra is always special. May 2022 graduation week was extra, extra, special. A week full of inspiration with session 2 of the leadership program, the Fellows Professional Development Day, and the inaugural Chairperson’s Round Table.
My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine. Such suffering. Such inhumanity. It is hard to sit down and reflect on the challenges of today’s leaders in water and the environment, and not start by reflecting on the courage displayed by the Ukraine people, and indeed all people living in regions of armed conflict. May they be safe.
ENJOY READING THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TRUST’S NEWSLETTER BRIDGING.