Four of our Young Utility Leaders attended the launch of the Closing the Water for People and Communities Gap: Improving water services to First Nations remote communities report. Lachie Glascodine, Kate Buckley, Liz Duguid and Elliot Cichero share their reflections gained from the event.
The release of Closing the Water for People and Communities Gap report felt more pertinent than ever. Particularly in the face of the growing impacts of climate change, not having safe, secure drinking water supply for all is unacceptable. The stories of continued inadequate drinking water supply for remote First Nations communities are a sobering reminder of the continued impacts of colonisation. I’m hopeful that with a report like this, as an industry, we can continue to address this inequality. There was no doubt a strong sense of willingness in the room to improve on drinking water supply for remote First Nations communities.
- Lachie Glascodine, Melbourne Water
The Closing the Water for People and Communities Gap report launch at Parliament House on Monday 7th November was both harrowing and significant. Listening to Pam and Jackie discuss the enduring impacts of poor water quality in their community was a sombre moment. One comment in particular struck a chord with me - that it's cheaper for Alpurrurulam residents to purchase a bottle of soft drink than a bottle of water. I couldn't help but reflect in that moment and acknowledge that access to safe drinking water is something that I and many others throughout Australia take for granted on a daily basis. As the launch came to an end, the significance of this report was felt around the room with the onus on us as an industry to do better, and I am hopeful that we will.
- Kate Buckley, Seqwater
The launch of the Closing the Gap Report was powerful and sobering. To hear from Pam and Jackie, and their story of over 12 years (and counting) fighting for their community, was deeply saddening. And the recount of Government officials in contrast bringing their own bottled water to drink was impactful. However, at the same time I felt some optimism in the room that we were turning a corner and that the message was falling on the right ears.
Another key takeaway from both the report as well as the second session of the forum was the complexity of the governance structures in which the Water Industry and these communities operate. The diagrams for each state/territory in the report are overwhelming to say the least. For the water industry, the possibility to simplify or better coordinate these structures seems to be one benefit of having a new National Water Initiative.
- Liz Duguid, Water Corporation
It was an amazing opportunity to hear the stories shared by Pam and Jackie and the launching of the report. I think often-times we can take our privileges for granted, and not be aware of the disparity of quality of life experienced by communities across the country. Anecdotes of a bottle of coke costing less than a bottle of water, politicians bringing their own cask water to the region for personal use, or communities being detached from their water supply by international corporations were all extremely sobering, and should not exist in Australia. My takeaway was how large the gap for equity and reconciliation still is – and as the provider of a core need for human survival, the water industry must take up the challenge. I’m hopeful that the launching of this report will elevate the voices of these communities and drive greater action to close the gap.
- Elliot Cichero, Sydney Water