Winning Wangaratta Waterway Management Mentoring Catch Up

“Communication – is the key to human connection – and to personal and career success”

Three months into our Waterway Management mentoring partnerships and it was time for a mid-program catch up. Our location this year was Wangaratta, and we spent two enjoyable days hearing about the development and progress of each mentoring partnership waterway project.

We began with a reflection exercise that resulted in some beautiful artistic creations, including a new species of plant called the Siwanica Handyansis spp Twinningii, commonly called the ‘Cameron Hand Plant’. This amazing plant enables people to flourish in the company of others, with more hands being added to the plant as the group grows. We also had a before and after illustration of the difference mentoring can make to ‘dam busting’ the stress, guilt, inertia and lack of time people feel stand in the way of investing in people and relationships. Once this dam was broken we ended up with a series of interconnected wetlands, joined by free flowing water, happy frogs, bugs, birds and people – truly awesome! Our third representation of what mentoring means was a ‘nest’ created by a group who raided gardens and roadsides to weave a beautiful basket within which our mentoring program sits.

Dam Busters
Dam Busters. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett
Andy and Fiona presenting. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett

After hearing three Twinning Updates we headed out to Winton Wetlands, a large wetland restoration project, for an field trip. Although currently dry, there is still a lot to see across this wetland complex. Ranger Dave was our guide, and we investigated different areas of the wetlands, including a beautiful walk out on the lunette to a vantage point looking out over the Winton Swamp. At this point our party split up, with most of the group walking out across the swamp back to where we had started. Loaded down with their coats and afternoon tea, four of us came back in the bus and collected a weary but contented group of walkers. Here are some photos from our afternoon.

Winton Swamp. Photo credit: Kira Wood
Winton Swamp. Photo credit: Kira Wood

The following morning it was all about delving into the neuroscience of communication. Our brains are incredible, and we learnt about different communication styles and the impact they have on the people around us. This was an informative session and we had a great discussion about who we could use what we had learnt in our future communication projects. After a few more updates from participants, we moved into a mentee-led session by Robyn McKay, where we used stories from each other to learn about their experiences of engaging and working with Aboriginal people in waterway projects.

Storytelling is such a powerful way of sharing what we know, and Robyn – our facilitator – did a tremendous job of prompting us with questions about how the stories we heard could inform our own behaviour. We have decided to do more on this topic with another workshop the day before our group graduates. Twinning Program alumni will be invited to join us, and if there are spaces left we may be able to open the workshop up wider.

Overall it was a great two days and the feedback from the participants says it all:

“It is an amazing program – if there is an opportunity to put it up for an award somewhere, you should! I can’t thank you enough, this program was just what I need at this point in time, and the benefits will be life long (and potentially career changing).”

“The Aboriginal engagement session was incredible, well done to all who shared their person learnings.”

“Really well structured, always interesting. Hearing everyone’s personal story about their mentoring journeys so far was really insightful and valuable.”

“Great initiative – which only helps to strengthen the waterway industry. Also, lots of fun!!”

“Fantastic! I am learning a lot and appreciating the advice and support. Respectful, two-way, enthusiastic and fun.”

“Thank you, [I] really appreciate being able to talk with others in the group – a real sense of belonging.”

Before I sign off, I want to say a huge thank you to Lucy Cameron who is leaving the Program to explore other interests. Lucy’s enthusiasm, insight, sense of fun and all round brilliance means she will be missed, but we wish her all the very best and look forward to staying in touch with all that she does.

Nest builders - left to right; Lucy, Kirsten, Jenny, Matt, Ruth and Trent. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett
Nest builders – left to right; Lucy, Kirsten, Jenny, Matt, Ruth and Trent. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett
Sunset over Winton Wetlands. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett
Sunset over Winton Wetlands. Photo credit: Siwan Lovett

We are delighted to be running this program in 2019 and you can register your expression of interest to be first in line when applications open on the 13th of August 2018. Pop your details below and we’ll be in touch soon: