Our Program

Waterway Management
Twinning Program

We believe investing in people is just as important as the waterways they care about.

The Waterway Management Twinning Program is a structured mentoring program, focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of Victorian river and riparian restoration projects. Victoria has Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), industry, non-government and community groups independently developing and delivering different approaches for similar riparian restoration outcomes. This Program uses mentoring to enable the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.

Mentoring is a powerful way of effecting change in organisations. This is because mentoring focuses on supporting an individual to achieve their goals in a way that is collaborative, personal and uniquely human. People are social beings, yet in our fast-paced world we often neglect to invest in the relationships with peers and colleagues that sustain us. Mentoring creates an opportunity for two people to develop a relationship of trust and respect, and to work on a project that combines their skills, expertise and enthusiasm.

Our objectives for the Program are to:

Build capacity and confidence in people working in waterway management across a range of disciplines, from on-ground river restoration to evaluation to community engagement.

Connect and create networks that will sustain people in the long-term so that they continue to get support and assistance from the people they meet through the program.

Foster supportive behaviours within organisations so that mentoring becomes a part of workplace professional and personal development.

Watch the video below to see the program in action…

“The triple value of project mentoring, professional development and networking are a winning formula, and I would recommend the Twinning program to anyone involved in waterway management or planning.”

– Jenny Emeny, Warrnambool City Council

Length of the Program

9 months

How it works

1. Mentor-Mentee Partnerships are formed

Mentees and mentors are paired up around a specific project of the mentee
This ensures the program has tangible outcomes for Victorian river health projects. In addition, professional development activities which improve the mentee’s capacity to ultimately deliver river health outcomes are encouraged. The mentor’s contribution to the partnership is their time. Time to develop a meaningful relationship and contribution to their mentee’s project and professional development, as well as attending all three of the Program’s workshop over the course of the year.

Each Twinning partnership is required to report on their experience, outputs and the outcomes of the mentoring program at the end of the Program. Each pair presents a written (and optional video) account describing the outcomes of the Waterway Management Twinning Program, with regards to both professional development and the ongoing legacy of the Program on their river restoration approach.

2. Three whole-group sessions are run by Program Coordinators

The Program consists of three whole-of-group sessions (March, June and October)

Initial Workshop

The aim of the initial session is for participants to get to know each other by focusing on projects, skills, knowledge and networks. Mentoring will only work if the people involved respect and trust each other, so taking time to build this is essential. Each participant presents their waterway project, with mentees outlining their mentoring issue and talking about why they would like to work with their mentor. This session is run with plenty of discussion time so that the wider group can also input ideas around the project.

In addition to the project overviews, are personal and professional development sessions covering topics like: what gives us purpose? why is river restoration important? how can we communicate effectively? and what are the key elements of happiness and work satisfaction? These inside sessions are matched with field trips to see local waterway management in action, with plenty of opportunities for discussion and great conversations. Most importantly, the initial session sets the mood for the remainder of the program: that is one of openness, sharing, positivity, kindness and helpfulness.

A key deliverable of the initial session is the mentoring agreement, developed by each mentoring partnership. This agreement sets out what each partnership hopes to achieve throughout the program, tasks that need to occur, how communication will be maintained, and planned expenditure of funds. This agreement is constantly referred to throughout the program and is a contract between the mentor and mentee to which they can be held accountable.

Checking-In Workshop

A one-day interim forum is held mid-way through the Program. The aim of this meeting is to reconnect, review what has been achieved, and rebuild momentum for the remainder of the mentoring period. This session really focuses on steps two and three of the mentoring process. Within this session, each group presents on what has been achieved to date and reflects on their mentoring experience. It is an opportunity to reinvigorate the partnership and plan tasks and goals for the remaining mentoring period. This session is held in a regional location and our Alumni from 2016 and 2017 take responsibility for running a field trip, with opportunities provided for lots of discussion as well as insights from those that completed the course.

Wrap-up Workshop

The final session is an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and learnt, as well as celebrating project successes and networks created. Part of the final session is open to anyone interested, and we use it to acknowledge the effort made by our mentors and mentees, congratulate them on their achievements, share their results, and ignite interest in others wanting to get involved. We also welcome those who have completed the Program to the Waterway Management Twinning Program Alumni.

3. Ongoing contact and assistance provided by Program Coordinators

Ongoing contact and assistance being provided through phone calls, emails and a Yammer group. We will also use ‘Yammer’ an online communication platform that will enable each partnership to stay in touch with each other, as well as the wider group.

4. Mentor-mentee get opportunities to work together

The mentor/mentee will work collaboratively to get results on the mentee’s chosen project, with a four stage process used to facilitate this:

  • Mentors and mentees meet face-to-face and formalise their relationship by completing a mentoring agreement.
  • Mentors and mentees continue to meet and work together on their mutual learning journey.
  • Midway through the mentoring time frame, both parties review their progress and satisfaction.
  • Concluding evaluation and end of formal relationship.

Program Fees

For fee-paying positions, each mentee organisation contributes $6000 to participate in the program. This fee will contribute to workshop related travel and accommodation costs for that mentee and their mentor. In addition, a proportion will be available to support the partnership, for example, visits to each other’s regions. Some of the funds will also be available to the mentee to spend on activities that have specifically arisen out of the mentoring relationship.

Scholarships available

Fully funded scholarships are available for mentees from Landcare and Traditional Owner groups.

Mentees will benefit from

  • access to a new, strong and ongoing professional network built on an underlying willingness to help and share.
  • knowledge and understanding of some of the best projects and approaches to waterway restoration in Victoria
  • the structured approach to planning and reflection for learning
  • access to a ‘sounding board’ to try out new concepts and ideas
  • a supportive environment where they are encouraged to take risks and learn constructively from failure
  • more knowledge and skills in their area of interest
  • increased confidence in undertaking their daily work

Mentee’s organisation will benefit from

  • improved delivery of projects through new partnerships, systems, ideas and approaches
  • ‘on the job’ learning of skills ad knowledge for staff
  • expanded support networks for employees and the organisation
  • staff with increased communication, presentation and networking skills
  • increased staff satisfaction, that in an organisation that is supportive can ‘ripple’ positively throughout all staff

MENTORS will benefit from

  • the satisfaction of helping another person grow and further develop their knowledge and skills
  • being challenged to think about their perspectives and viewpoints
  • the challenge of having to explain often complex principles which then improves their own understanding
  • honing of their own professional skills
  • recognition and respect for their knowledge
  • access to a new, strong and ongoing professional network built on an underlying willingness to help and share
  • knowledge and understanding of other projects and approaches to waterway restoration in Victoria

Our achievements

So far we have:

Run 4 programs (and 13 workshops) in a variety of locations – Warrnambool, Bendigo, Warragul, Wangaratta, Melbourne and Portland.

Enabled 29 mentoring partnerships with waterway projects covering monitoring and evaluation, riparian restoration, fish habitat, community engagement, water supply and aboriginal cultural awareness.

Established an alumni with 61 people drawn from government, non-government and private consultancy organisations.

The inaugural Waterway Twinning Management Program began in August 2015 and finished in July 2016. The response from the ten participants involved in this first year was overwhelmingly positive, and since then we have had another 60 people participate in the Program, with solid relationships established and a range of projects undertaken. What has become clear, is that there are very few opportunities for people working in natural resources management to access the sorts of resources and support the Waterway Twinning Management Program has provided. Most coaching and leadership programs are beyond the reach of people due to their highly competitive nature, or cost. Mentoring is, in contrast, relatively inexpensive, and develops skills that can be taken back into the workplace and easily shared with others.

This infographic provides summary of our achievements, please download and share with your manager if you are interested in the program.

Download the infographic here


“The experience exceeds expectations.”

“It was just getting that broader exposure to catchment management, which I had heard nothing of. I was an engineer sitting in a room full of environmental scientists.”

“I think all of us in the water industry are now being compelled to speak with other organisations and people that perhaps we wouldn’t have had to speak to ten years ago, but there is now more emphasis on integrated water and community consultation and engagement, so those networks are really valuable.”

“I really enjoyed getting to know people from the broader industry. We often work in our little silos, so the field trips and workshops that are part of the Twinning Program were great at getting to know my colleagues from other waterway management organisations. From some of the conversations we have had, new connection have been made between normally exclusive parts of the water industry.”

“The best thing was meeting everyone and creating network, learning everyone’s background experiences and where we could potentially tap into outside of the mentor-mentee partnership.”

An independent evaluation found that it is much more than a mentoring program, it is a capability program, and this is because participants build confidence in public speaking, communication skills, creativity, project planning, networking, waterway management knowledge – and most importantly people have FUN!

Read the full evaluation here.


The Waterway Management Twinning Program has now ceased.

However, the successful framework of the program is being used to develop the Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program.

Subscribe to receive updates when the program launches!

Meet the Program Organisers

Dr. Adam Bester (GHCMA)

Adam is the CEO at Glenelg Hopkins CMA and has a broad range of experience in leadership, river and wetland management, ecology and stakeholder engagement. He has worked across both the private and public sectors, is a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust, GAICD and co-founder of the Waterway Management Twinning Program.

Dr Jan Barton (GHCMA)

Jan is the project manager for theTwinning Program and Our Catchments Our Communities. She has a broad range of experience in rivers, wetlands, estuaries and coastal ecology and management, and has worked in government and tertiary sectors. ]

Dr. Siwan Lovett (ARRC)

Inspiring, skilled and effective, Siwan is a familiar face in the Australian river restoration community, with her work in communications, public speaking, leadership and on-ground riparian rehabilitation well-known and respected. Siwan is Managing Director of the Australian River Restoration Centre, a Winston Churchill Trust Fellow and co-founder of the Waterway Management Twinning Program

Robyn Bowden (DELWP)

Robyn has a broad range of experience working with CMAs, the private secto rand Aboriginal Corporations, to support the implementation of conservation and natural resource management programs. She is passionate about Australia’s unique and varied landscapes and biodiversity, and working collaboratively to protect them.

Peter Vollebergh (DELWP)

Peter has worked in a range of roles in waterway health for more than 30 years, with the last 15 as manager of the riparian program in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (and its predecessors).

Jane Walker (GHCMA)

Jane is the Catchment and Indigenous Partnerships Manager at GHCMA and has a broad range of experience in Indigenous engagement, environmental education, protected area management and strategic planning. Jane has worked for government, Traditional Owner organisations and Indigenous Land Councils.