The Victorian Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program – 2024

The Victorian Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program held its first workshop for the year at beautiful Torquay in southern Victoria.

Twenty participants got together for the first time to meet each other, establish their mentor-mentee relationships and set forth on their mentoring journey over the next eight months.

Team building exercise with Jake, Alyssa, Paulo, Imy, Bron and Kat.

The 2024 cohort sees participants joining us from an amazing 13 organisations including five Catchment Management Authorities (West Gippsland, Corangamite, North Central, North East and Glenelg-Hopkins), the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Water, Murray Darling Basin Authority, Victorian Environmental Water Holder, the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Greater Western Water, and Alluvium.

Participants got to know each other on the first day through active listening exercises, mentoring basics, and sharing with the group their ‘why’ they do the work they do. Everyone shared their passions for work and life, and how they hope their work can contribute to the better management of water and healthier waterways.

On the second day, the group kicked things off with spaghetti, marshmallows and tape, to chase the dream of constructing the highest tower. The importance of storytelling when it comes to effective communication was also a key exercise for the morning, with some amazing applications of ‘the Story Spine’ shared with the group.

Listening exercise with the group.
Elsa, Ally, Gavin and Drew discussing conversations that matter.

Finally, the group set off on a journey into the field to see the confluence of the Leigh and Barwon River catchments, to learn about the work underway to improve this part of the system, in a part of the landscape under increasing demands for public access. We were then treated to a walk, talk and estuary watch demonstration at Lake Connewarre, a Ramsar listed wetland of international significance.

Field trip stop 1 and Leigh Creek.
Field trip stop 2 at Lake Connewarre RAMSAR site.

We are extremely grateful to the Corrangamite CMA team. Particularly Hannah Wiggs and Emerging Leaders Alumni Rose Jackson, Henry Cooper and Deirdre Murphy, who greatly assisted in planning and leading the day. We are also grateful for the time and expertise shared with us from Donna Smithyman at City of Greater Geelong Council, and Dale Smithyman from Golden Plains Shire Council.

RAMSAR site presentation from Donna Smithyman.
Water sampling at Lake Connewarre with Rose and Deirdre.

On the third and final day, mentors and mentees established their mentoring agreements, which outline their commitment to each other and the program. They also clarified their objectives for their project and identified where they could connect with other projects in the room. The group also shared their projects with the group, providing a wide range of opportunities for cross-mentoring connections to be made over the next few months.

The mentor-mentee pairs have set off on their journeys to develop their skills and progress the wide range of projects.

We are extremely grateful for the support provided for the program in 2023 and again in 2024 by the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and the River Basin Management Society.

The Victorian Waterway Emerging Leaders Program Builds on the previous Waterway Management Twinning Program which successfully ran from 2014-15 to 2019-20. More information about the program can be found at: Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program.

Mentoring partnership Ally and Geraldine.