Our Program

Waterway Management
Emerging Leaders Program

A mentoring program to drive leadership and innovation in the water and catchment management industry.

Investing in our people is just as important as the waterways we care about – now more than ever before.

Living on the driest inhabited continent in the world requires a water industry built on innovation, best practice and a commitment to developing visionary leaders. In the face of a warming climate, our waterways and the people who care for them are increasingly seeing the impacts of fires, floods, and droughts, and being asked to manage for these types of extreme conditions. We see it as critical that the industry develops the people and strong industry networks to meet these challenges.

In addition, the global pandemic has disrupted our lives over the past two years, interrupting some of the social and collaborative environments we rely on as part of water and catchment management. We see an opportunity to reconnect the water industry and the networks required to deliver outcomes for communities and the environment.

There is an immediate need to reconnect and re-energise water industry networks, and invest in the emerging leaders required to manage our precious waterways in a vastly changing climate.

The Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program

The Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program (formerly known as 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.

The program is designed to mentor and develop people, so they have:

The capacity, confidence and resilience to make water and catchment management decisions across a range of disciplines, from on-ground river restoration to evaluation to community engagement.

The relationships and networks that will sustain them in the long-term, with continued support and assistance from the social capital they build through the program.

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

This program would be beneficial for anyone working in the water and catchment management industry, including water authorities, utilities, catchment management authorities, state and federal water management agencies, local councils and non-government organisations.

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 program to anyone involved in waterway management or planning.”

– Jenny Emeny, Warrnambool City Council

Program Format

Building on the solid foundation, our new ‘Emerging Leaders’ will be paired up with mentors around a specific water or catchment project, chosen by the mentee. The program will:

  • Run over one calendar year
  • Involve three workshops spaced apart over 8 months
  • Provide ongoing contact and assistance throughout the program
  • Deliver a waterway management project
  • Offer ongoing professional opportunities as an Alumni member

A mentoring agreement is developed at the start of the program, enabling mentors and mentees to formalise their relationship, review their progress and satisfaction, and evaluate their outcomes.

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 mentee-mentor 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 Emerging Leaders 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 November)

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 Emerging Leaders 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 the mentors. Agencies supporting mentees are also required to cover travel and accommodation costs. 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.

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

Built on a solid foundation

Our Program builds on the success of the former Victorian Waterway Management Twinning Program, which delivered:

Run 5 programs (and 16 workshops) from 2016 to 2020 in a variety of locations – Warrnambool, Bendigo, Warragul, Wangaratta, Melbourne and Portland.

20 organisations involved, from government, non-government to private consultancy agencies.

Enabled 37 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

What past participants have said

“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 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.”

The program was subject to an independent review in 2018, conducted by First Person Consulting , to determine its effectiveness. The results were extremely positive, with the review finding:

“Overall, the Program is a well-run, well-targeted initiative. It is much more than a mentoring program in that it provides a rounded suite of activities to help participants build the skills and networks important for becoming more effective waterway managers. Supervisors saw improvements in mentees’ confidence, communication skills and networks—which were all benefitting their work. It thus fits well with broader strategies for improving the capability of people within the sector—an essential element for delivering better on-ground outcomes in the long-term.”

Read the full evaluation here.

When will the next Program be held?

The Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program is currently accepting expressions of interest for 2024.

If you are interested in participating either as a Mentee or a Mentor, please submit your expression of interest below. If you have any questions about the program, please get in touch with the Program Coordinator Andy Lowes at andy.lowes@arrc.com.au.

Express Interest for 2024

Meet the Program Organisers

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

Andy Lowes (ARRC)

Andy is passionate about improving river health through improved flow regimes. With over a decade of experience working with water for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, his focus is on the collaboration and communication required between First Nations, communities, scientists, industries and government agencies, to improve our rivers. Andy is also committed to strengthening the water industry network through programs which support mentoring and collaboration across agencies.

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.

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).