Murray-Darling Basin Authority Emerging Leaders Program 2024 – Workshop 2

On the 28th of May the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Emerging Leaders Program began our second workshop in South Australia.

The program brings together 20 participants from the water management sector, across various groups within the MDBA, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH), ACT and NSW Governments.

Jess, Jake, Alex and Tim having a group discussion.

Day 1 started with a welcome back from facilitator Dr Siwan Lovett. We kicked off with an Acknowledgement of lovely Kaurna Country and an icebreaker exercise. The first session focused on the neuroscience of leadership and interpersonal communication, exploring everything from the power of trust to mirror-neurons.

After morning tea, the group embarked on the challenge of unpacking the Indigenous concept of positionality with Lucy and Andy. We explored our own positionality through reflection, and discussed why it is important to know who you are and where you come from.

Lucy and Andy presenting on positionality.
Individual reflection activity.

The afternoon began on a bumpy bus headed for Goolwa Wharf! We were greeted by two Ngarrindjeri People who travelled from Murray Bridge to Welcome us on Country. Nan Shirley Hartman shared that Ngarrindjeri nation is made up of 18 clans with each of these clans having their own dialect, plus their own tract of land and ‘Ngaitye’ (or Nga:tji meaning ‘totem’).

Nan Shirley Hartman providing a Welcome to Country.
All smiles after an exciting bus trip.
All smiles after an exciting bus trip.

From Goolwa Wharf we boarded the Spirit of the Coorong and set sail to see the mighty Murray-Mouth. For many of us, it was the first time seeing the spot where the rivers we work on meet the sea.

After our cruise-y boat ride, we headed to the new Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Research Centre. It was here we met Dr Tiffany Nay, who gave us some background on the centre and the research they are conducting. The centre is particularly special as it is open to the public at all times with research being informed by community values. A highlight for us was using their interactive engagement tool that projects data onto a sand box to show modelling in real time.

Looking out towards the Coorong.
Interactive modelling at CLLMM.

Day 2 began with a recap video and a presentation about what we can do to ‘stay above the line’ in our work and personal lives. Like the positionality session, this was a vulnerable and honest session, and we thank the group for helping to create a positive space to share.

After this we launched into our mentor/mentee partnership presentations! We heard from each of the pairs on their projects and progress so far. For us as the facilitators, this is one of the most rewarding parts of the program – seeing people come of their shell and work on something interesting and important to them is special.

Happy snaps on the boat.
Janet, Adam, Matt, Michele and Amber.

After lunch our trip to Adelaide came to an end and sadly it was time to head home! We look forward to seeing the evolution of the projects between now and our November graduation.

Group photo!
A cheeky Seal waiting for dinner by the fishway at the barrages.

Comments and reflections:

I wanted to show my appreciation to ARRC for enabling us to take control of a project from start to finish, all while expanding our own networks. Siwan, Andy and Lucy have produced an incredible program that provides genuine benefit to APS 5 and 6 staff who have the spark to be something more.

I really loved last week and got so much out of it. I really appreciated the honest conversations and particularly the session on Positionality. Siwan’s story was particularly powerful and resonated with me big time. It was so refreshing to hear someone talk openly and honestly and sharing their vulnerability, something we don’t often witness in the public service, yet we most of us are probably feeling it every day.

We are extremely grateful to be providing the MDBA Emerging Leader Program as an opportunity for us to deliver a tailored mentoring program for their organisation. The group has some great participants with lots of potential for growth and personal development.

The program builds off the long-standing Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program which you can learn more about here.

All photos by Lucy Stuart and Siwan Lovett.

Andy Lowes, Siwan Lovett and Lucy Stuart.