Milestones: the first 15 Years of the Peter Cullen Trust

Milestones are important markers in our individual and collective journeys and across a week in May 2024, the Peter Cullen Trust celebrated a number of memorable milestones. The 15th Anniversary dinner at The Boat House brought 100 leaders in the water sector together in a return to our origin story; the 2024 Water Symposium honoured the legacy of our namesake across a day of rich, diverse and robust discussions; the 2024 Leadership Program Graduation – our 20th – welcomed the 300th Peter Cullen Trust Fellow to our National network; and the Graduation Address challenged us to be both clever and wise.

In amongst it all, we heard from some incredible voices including:

Click through to watch their videos.

Amongst the wealth of experience, wit and wisdom shared throughout the week, there were some pearls:

  • “If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance.”  Professor Andrew Campbell, quoting Peter Cullen
  • “You don’t have to be a blackfella to look after the environment; you just have to pick something and look after it.”  Dr Paul Frazier, quoting Uncle William ‘Badger’ Bates – Baakandji elder
  • “…don’t just pursue purpose, project purpose in every fibre of your being.”  Andrew McConville, CE of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority
  • “A climate-friendly, business-as-usual future powered by green energy with economic and nature positive outcomes is a fantasy.”  Dr Kerri Muller

The Peter Cullen Trust’s purpose is to foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment.  We lived this purpose across the week, collaboratively and productively, with generous partners who brought their own diverse perspectives and voices to the table, and we thank:

There have been many outstanding contributors to the Trust’s first 15 years, and we particularly honour the vision and the grit of some extraordinary individuals who set this wheel in motion when they met at the Boat House in 2008 to honour a great Australian – Our Patron, Vicky Cullen; Ken Matthews; Andrew Campbell; David Trebeck; Don Blackmore; Tim Fisher; Dr John Williams; Professor Snow Barlow (on behalf of John Langford); Stephen Mills; Professor Gary Jones; Peter Harris; Les Roberts (on behalf of Wendy Craik); Laura Phipps; Karen Mow (on behalf of Professor Richard Norris); Arthur Georges.

We acknowledge the inaugural, past and present Chairs – the Hon John Thwaites, the Hon Karlene Maywald and Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell AO; current and past members of the Board; Leith Boully; and the four CEOs who have led us – Sandy Hinson, Tom Mollenkopf, Darryl Day and Rosie Wheen. 

And we thank the leaders and lifters of the Organising Committee who envisaged and delivered the 15th Anniversary events: Rosie Wheen, Linda Christesen, Ross Thompson, Sonia Wood, Kerri Muller, Jackie Luethi, Darryl Day, Kath Broderick, Cynthia Mitchell and Lesley Ryall.

Professor Andrew Campbell’s closing remarks at the 15th Anniversary Dinner bring us full circle and remind us that Peter Cullen’s example, his life’s work and his legacy are still very real and meaningful.

“Courageous leadership extends the boundaries of what people perceive to be possible, and achievable.  It makes space and is infectious and osmotic in encouraging (in the literal sense of the word en-courage) others to lead – followers, stakeholders, formal leaders, even opponents.

Peter Cullen (even or perhaps especially in the ‘pensioner from Gunning’ phase of his influential career) enlarged the space for leadership

Peter Cullen encouraged Prime Ministers, Premiers, Ministers (State and Federal), and industry and community leaders at all levels to lead, from a sound evidence base. 

Enlarging the space for leadership, encouraging and empowering leaders. 

Peter’s work continues through the work of the Peter Cullen Trust and the impactful careers of hundreds of Peter Cullen Fellows across the continent.

Thank you so much for coming tonight, for honouring the memory of a great Australian, and for your ongoing contributions to leadership in the water sector and beyond.”


Other News

Leading with Courage – the Trust welcomes new CEO, Rosie Wheen

On the 1st February 2024, the Peter Cullen Trust welcomed its fourth Chief Executive Officer, Rosie Wheen. Rosie succeeds Darryl Day, who has held the position for the past three years. Darryl commenced at the height of the Covid experience, helped us navigate that very difficult time and emerge with our business, our networks and our future in very good shape.

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