Twinning is winning!
16 December 2020
In late February, Caitlin Davis (Executive Manager Strategy and Engagement) and Rennae Christensen (Team Leader Communications and Engagement) from the VEWH embarked on an early morning drive to Warrnambool to meet their mentees in the Waterway Twinning Program.
The Twinning Program is a structured mentoring program, focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of Victorian river and riparian restoration projects. The program uses mentoring partnerships to enable the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the state. It’s also a lot of fun!
In a non-COVID year, the program runs over nine months and includes two away from home workshops, a catch up for one last face to face workshop and then a big graduation. Being the year that 2020 has been, it didn’t quite work that way. However, we were lucky enough to get our first workshop in face-to-face, so that when all the mentors and mentees came together online, we were already familiar with each other. One of the best outcomes from the program is all the people you meet and the connections you make with others working in waterway management.
Caitlin worked with Corey Walker who at the time had started a new role across the border (when you could easily cross them!) with New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service as the Indigenous Facilitator for Millewa Forest under the Living Murray Program. Rennae was matched with Sarah Martin from Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA).
Corey and Caitlin’s initial plans to deliver an inter-agency and/or community workshop to share knowledge and discuss the impacts of water management on cultural heritage and the environment in the Barmah-Millewa Forest were gradually scuppered as constraints on meetings and travel due to COVID persisted during the year. But there was still plenty to work through, as Corey established Burnanga, Victoria’s first Indigenous fishing club, completed his Diploma of Land and Sea Country Management and landed a new job at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority within the Living Murray program during the COVID period! A key Burnanga project included negotiating with Goulburn Valley Water, Victorian Fisheries Authority and other partners to begin conversion of an old water treatment plant pond into a recreational fishing spot for the community.
Rennae and Sarah were matched due to the nature of the project that Sarah wanted to deliver. In a first for the Twinning Waterway project, Sarah’s project wasn’t a physical project to improve waterways, rather it was more a strategic project in how to better communicate about it.
Sarah and Rennae got stuck into putting together a communication and engagement strategy for environmental water at the CCMA. This type of project provided a learning opportunity for both parties on each other’s businesses and the wider environmental water communications and engagement network. Providing connections with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as well as northern CMAs all who could provide a different perspective in how they communicate and work with their communities.
The organisers did an amazing job of running workshops online with opportunities for both mentors and mentees to learn a lot from the materials presented in what has been a most unusual year.
The Twinning Program is a collaboration between the Australian River Restoration Centre and Glenelg Hopkins CMA. Funding is a part of the $222 million committed in Water for Victoria to improve the health of waterways and catchments across the state by the Victorian Government.
For further information please call
03 9637 8951 or email