Mentee: Michael Broughton, Project officer, North East Catchment Management Authority
Mentor: Patricia Geraghty, Executive Officer, Victorian Catchment Management Council
Our original goals were to:
- Plan a practical waterways management project …. by
- aligning our skills experience and aspirations…. resulting in
- an application for funding the project through a Recreational Fishing Licences Grant
Alongside these project goals, Mick was interested in enhancing his program development skills, and in developing a higher profile for his activities and programs. Patricia hoped to re-connect with, and increase her understanding of, on-ground works in waterway management.
Note that these goals were achieved!
Mick had the original idea for this project, which is based on his deep knowledge and love of the beautiful Mitta Mitta River. He has been working on various aspects of the Mitta for the past 15 years. His current program focuses on channel capacity, which involves the removal of woody weeds, blockages and bank erosion, ensuring flow between the Dartmouth Dam and Lake Hume is unrestricted, with funding on an ongoing basis through the MDBA and Goulburn Murray Water. He has also taken the opportunity to improve riparian health, not just ensuring flow, so has worked energetically with landholders to undertake stock exclusion, fencing and re-vegetation projects.
Mick had his eye on a special place on the Mitta for years, as can be seen in the photos below. It is a reserve area of some 3.5 hectares, with a water frontage of approximately 1 kilometre. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning took over the running of this reserve in 1993 to transform it into a memorial for local staff member Katie Peters who, along with a workmate, tragically died in the 1993 Harrietville bushfires. The Katie Peters Reserve (KPR) is attractive and well maintained, and used by campers and fisher people, but the river alongside the reserve is lacking in-stream structure, which means there is little habitat to keep macroinvertebrates and fish in the area. So, the fishers do not get many rewards!
Our project is all about improving habitat in this reach of the river by providing rock seeding, lunker placement and large woody habitat. This improvement will provide better fishing opportunities, and increase the likelihood of fish staying in the area and spawning. In turn, improving fishing opportunities could also help local businesses with increased tourism in the area.
We drew up a Concept Plan for the project, working together through emails and phone conversations, and sought initial approval from Katie Warner, CEO of the North East Catchment Management Authority. She was immediately on board! Mick had initial conversations with many landholders and people using the KPR: they were all very supportive of the proposed works, and keen to see the end results.
We visited the reserve in May and met with several landholders, including the Patons, and two of the DELWP staff who manage the reserve (as shown in the following photos respectively). They had an enthusiastic response to the proposal and were happy for us to proceed further. In the planning prior to gaining final approval for works, we garnered letters of support from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Goulburn Murray Water, Greenwell’s Fly-Fishing Club, the Australian River Restoration Centre, Arthur Rylah Institute, and the Australian Trout Foundation etc. to help with the grant application.
Then we developed a detailed project plan, including costs after getting the contractor out on site to get the initial quotes for the works. Mick organised a consultancy to undertake a ‘Flows study’ of the reach alongside the Katie Peters Reserve, and obtained a final quote for the works program.
We met in Patricia’s office in Melbourne in September, had meetings with DELWP people, including Peter Vollebergh, and started work on the application for funding the KPR River Restoration project, through the Recreational Fishing Licence Grants process. That was our intention right from the beginning. Applications opened on 1 October and we submitted our application soon after. We plan to visit the site when works begin!
We believe that the project developed for the Katie Peters Reserve could be replicated in other areas, along different rivers in the north east and beyond.
What did you gain personally?
“The story of our project is only part of the Twinning Journey! The mentoring experience with Mick has enabled me to get to walk along rivers, and talk about rivers at the practical level, which has been fantastic. Mick is an expert in this area. I thought I was an expert on waterway management, but I am essentially theoretical and strategic, not practical and hands-on. I was pleased to help with the project documentation and writing the application for funding, and especially with encouraging Mick in terms of his confidence …especially regarding public speaking. He really knows his area, his stakeholders and his projects, and he is an engaging, enthusiastic communicator.
And what else? An introduction to boutique ginger beer; new inspiration for my world of integrated catchment management and strategic waterway management; better understanding of the CMAs’ role in waterway management and the great work Mick and others do in stakeholder engagement; and insights from the Waterway Management Twinning Program including ‘Start with the Why” and the 3-4 Ps: in this case ‘Planning, Project, Profile and Pleasure’.”
“The Twinning program was a bit of a jump for me, I prefer to just go out and get things done on ground, dealing with landholders, the public and our contractors and not to make a fuss or look for recognition in what I do. To be involved with a group that focuses on each project and person, makes me uncomfortable, takes me out of my comfort zone!
Having a mentor like Patricia has given me the support and confidence to push myself a bit more and get out of my comfort zone to help promote what I do and exposes me more in the public eye! Patricia’s experiences at the higher level and the way she looks at problems and outcomes also helped me greatly with the grant writing and dealing with higher levels of government organisations.
The Twinning Group is also helpful in this, as everyone is very supportive and understanding. You also get a lot of different ideas and outlooks from everyone’s differing jobs and experiences (see photo on following page of Mick with fellow mentee Alex on our site visit, talking timber).
I was somewhat unsure of what I would get from this program, but have been pleasantly surprised with the friendships that have been made and the level of support from the group as a whole, as you get a lot of different ideas and outlooks due to everyone’s differing jobs and experiences, along with my wonderful mentor and our fantastic facilitators Siwan and Jan. I believe that I have gained a better understanding of high-level thinking and what is required for large scale grant writing and more confidence in speaking to groups.
Lastly, I think one of the big things I took away is the “WHY”, a short word but with great meaning.
“Why” do I get up each day and go to work?
“Why” do I enjoy what I do?
Because I think we are making a difference!
Because I can see change!
Because I think people really do want to make our world a better place for their children!
Keeping that “WHY” at the forefront of what we do, I think, can help keep us focused on what we are trying to achieve both with work and our personal life.
I would not hesitate to recommend this program to anyone that is considering being part either as a mentor or mentee: you have got everything to gain and nothing to lose!
Join the Twinning Program
The Waterway Management Twinning Program is a structured mentoring program, focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of current Victorian riparian restoration projects. This Program provides an opportunity for the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.