Midpoint mentoring get together involving bedazzled fish, wonky hats, mine tours and more…

In early June, our 2019 Waterway Management Mentoring Program participants met in Warragul to catch up on progress, reconnect and spend time together.  Our eight mentoring partnerships have been undertaking a range of projects, from boulder seeding in the Mitta Mitta River, to digital storytelling, working with Councils to get wood back into rivers, examining different monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and learning how to engage stakeholders in riparian management.  The breadth of knowledge and experience from across our group is incredible, with each mentoring partnership taking the time to share what they are learning and how this can link with other projects.

We kicked off the first day by exploring our creativity!    The internalised cry of ‘oh no, I hate being creative’ was felt by many, but, after the initial horror, each partnership really got into the exercise, which was to create a ‘visual artefact’ that represented their mentoring journey so far.  Here are a few of their wonderful creations:

Kristen and Bryana’s journey complete with varying speeds, one stop sign, roadblocks but eventually sunshine!
Bedazzled fish resting near boulders positioned for fish habitat, and a fisherman with a very long line… this piece was created by Mick and Patricia
All of the fabulous creations brought together on our ‘table installation’.

We had a really great time creating these pieces, laughter, conversation, and the pleasure of spending time together doing something different, lifted spirits and got our workshop off to a great start.

After a few tips and tricks on how to give a great presentation, we heard from some of our mentoring partnerships about what they have been doing over the three months since we last met.  For many, a trip out to visit the mentee in their part of the State was a key milestone, with a deeper knowledge and understanding about the context within which mentees work, really adding to the mentors appreciation and understanding of how they can best support the mentee to reach their goals.

With a packed lunch to go, we then headed out to the bus for our field trip to the Yallourn Mine.  This turned out to be a really fascinating afternoon, with Sam and Don giving up an afternoon of their precious time to take us around the site.  Yallourn will be closed in 2032, and thought is being given as to what is going to happen to this really large site at this time.  We were able to explore areas where watercourses have been cut off, and then reinstated, as well as areas where regeneration is showing great results.  At the centre of the site, a large dam is proposed to drown out the mine, creating recreational and many other opportunities when the mine is no longer being used.  Here are a couple of pics from the afternoon – note the problems I seem to experience in keeping my hat on straight, hence the wonky hat comment in the title of this story!

Overlooking the mine site, wonky hat wearers left to right Patricia, Janice, myself (clearly the wonkiest) and Marnie. Hard hats and safety glasses are needed for ‘extreme mentoring’!

After a lovely dinner at the Courthouse Restaurant in Warragul, we started our second day off with another creative group activity involving a performance.  We are not sharing these online as some things that happen at workshops need to stay within the group (!).  Our morning was spent hearing from those mentoring partnerships who had not yet shared their progress, as well as a review of mentoring agreements to see if any tweaks and changes were needed.

From left to right Mick, Patricia, Angela, Jennifer, Eleisha and Janice discussing mentoring agreements and whether tweaking is required.
Sharyn and Helen taking to the floor for their discussions.

For a couple of our projects, video content was used to share progress and we have provided these for you to enjoy.

Day out on the Mitta Mitta River talking fish habitat (by Jamie, Alex, Patricia and Mick)


Digital Storytelling – Behind the scenes (by Janice and Eleisha)

We had a great couple of days and our mentoring partnerships are now working hard to bring their projects together.  As always a big thankyou from me (Siwan) to Jan and Simone from the Glenelg Hopkins CMA for organising everything so wonderfully.  In October we will be holding our graduation event in Melbourne and everyone is welcome to our afternoon session when our mentoring partnerships will be presenting their work.  If you are interested in attending the graduation or you want to get in early to register your interest in joining our program next year, follow this link.