As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week (NRW) with the theme "Now More Than Ever," it is a poignant reminder of the ongoing journey toward reconciliation. The webinar, hosted by the Australian Water Association (AWA) and the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) with about 170 participants.

This amazing session focused on promoting reconciliation and integrating the knowledge and perspectives of Aboriginal people into the management of water services. We also shared success stories from the Australian water industry, demonstrating significant advances in inclusivity and collaboration with Indigenous communities.

Our CEOs, Corinne Cheeseman and Adam Lovell emphasised the strategic importance of integrating Indigenous knowledge into our water management practices. They outlined the operational benefits that have arisen from these inclusive approaches, such as improved water quality and strengthened community relationships. This set the tone for a session that celebrated the power of collaboration and respect.

Tamara Beck, Reconciliation Senior Project Manager at Yarra Valley Water, started the webinar with an Acknowledgement of Country, sharing the meaning of her own name in her local language.

Our first speaker, Clinton Lund, a Bunuba man and Health, Safety, and Environmental professional from Water Corporation, leads the Aboriginal Community Water Services Program. He is overseeing the transition of water and wastewater services for 142 remote Aboriginal communities from the Department of Communities to Water Corporation. Additionally, Clinton co-leads the Opportunities Pillar of Water Corporation’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Clinton discussed the complex process of acquiring and managing water treatment plants in remote Aboriginal communities, including the logistical challenges and the critical importance of community engagement. The subsequent Q&A session delved into community responses, improvements in water quality and public health, local employment and training opportunities, and the broader social and economic benefits. Clinton shared valuable insights into the hurdles faced and the lessons learned throughout the transition.

John Sebasio from Veolia, who leads a mainly-Aboriginal team operating the water treatment plant in Bamaga, Cape York, shared his experiences in training new staff and building relationships with community Elders. He underscored how local engagement has cultivated trust between the water management team and the community. During the Q&A session, John discussed his journey and the positive impact of local employment on community relations. John was also recognised as the QLD Operator of the Year in 2023.

A big thanks to all participating in the webinar!

4 Jun 2024

Rose Nguyen

Rose Nguyen

Communications Advisor