Maribyrnong Collaboration - Implementation Workshop 2 - Report

Purpose of the workshop

The purpose of the workshop was to continue implementation planning by confirming how we will work together to create healthy waterways in the Maribyrnong catchment, and to identify priorities for discussion at the next forum(s). The workshop allowed for members of the catchment community to share information and lessons about existing collaborations in the catchment and to explore how they might work together across the region to implement the Maribyrnong Catchment Program.

Who attended?

A total of 40 participants representing 22 different organisations attended the workshop.

  • 28 participants were external partners who represented a diverse array of groups including: councils, community and landcare groups, land owners, consultants, water retailers, industry groups, PPWCMA, Parks Victoria and DELWP.
  • 12 participants from Melbourne Water helped support the conversations and provide catchment knowledge.

What happened?

Nigel Corby (Western Water) provided an update on the Sunbury’s Water Future Project.

Damien Harrison (Hume City Council) reflected on the Chain of Ponds Collaboration, where a group of stakeholders including community, water companies, and State and local governments came together with the vision to transform the Moonee Ponds Creek into an iconic waterway for Melbourne.

Helen Kalajdzic (Stanley Park Committee of Management) discussed Stanley Park (Mount Macedon) as an example of collaboration.

Geoff then invited the participants to share other projects that involve collaboration currently occurring in the Maribyrnong catchment. Projects included:

  • Riparian work with neighbouring landholders as a Hume Envirochamp (Michael Howson)
  • Working with landowners at a large scale in Darraweit Guim to protect remnant vegetation (Robert Hall)
  • Maribyrnong Valley Connection Project Update (Simon Purves)
  • Rehabilitation of the Stony Creek following on from the Footscray fire (Jesse Barrett)

Rachel Lopes (Engagement Lead, Healthy Waterways Strategy, Melbourne Water) provided an update on where Melbourne Water is at in the implementation of the Strategy, including a draft Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting framework to be released end of the June and progress on the Waterways and Drainage Investment Plan, which will set Melbourne Water’s investment in Waterways for 2021-26.

Jesse Barrett then presented a possible model for ongoing collaboration in the Maribyrnong catchment, which was based on the outcomes of the October 2018 workshop and the lessons learnt from the four other catchments.

He explained how the collaboration group is the voice and pulse of the Maribyrnong catchment, and how for the model to work well it needs for everyone to continue to come together and collaborate. He mentioned the important links to the IWM forum and the Region-wide Leadership Group (who has oversight of the Strategy). Jesse also detailed the functions and roles of collaboration partners and the principles of the model (see details in the document library).

Participants then discussed the concept of a core group, who would act as:

  • a central point to convene views, keep track of progress and progress program;
  • a connecting point to higher policy but also to local groups, i.e. a facilitator with access to points of influence (e.g. DELWP, EPA) and the power to convene and invite the right people to forums

They decided that:

  • they would prefer to continue to meet as a whole of catchment group, three times a year with a solid agenda and a champion who can be the face of the collaboration
  • the catchment group should be supported by a smaller coordinating team (or ‘conduit group’).
  • provide administrative assistance to organise the catchment forums (including setting the agenda)
  • facilitate communication with local communities (including the gathering of local stories and mapping of projects)
  • be in tune with the catchment needs and issues and critically think about solutions
  • communicate priorities that come from forums / influence up
  • be well connected and have the power to go out and engage diverse groups (e.g. VicRoads, farmers, etc.).

As a starting point, the coordinating team would comprise of about five people (each with a back-up person), include lower and upper catchment collaboration, be supported by Melbourne Water and:

Geraldine Plas (Melbourne Water), Darren Coughlan (City West Water), Michael Howson (Land Owner), Simon Purves (Brimbank), Amanda Gauci (FEHMR), Michelle Wyatt (Macedon Ranges Shire Council), David Collins (Parks Victoria), Alex English (on behalf of the Chain of Ponds Collaboration) volunteered to join the Maribyrnong coordinating team.

As a final activity, Geoff Brown invited all participants to identify agenda items for the next forum. Top priorities were:

  • Cross collaboration: how to best communicate with each other and involve/engage others / the broader group
  • Governance of waterways and management of extraction: who is responsible for waterway management, oversubscribed water, illegal extraction
  • Funding and grant opportunities: upcoming grants and/or funding sources
  • Show, share, ask: having stakeholders showcase specific on ground results, identify gaps in monitoring and evaluation, and seek input and support from agencies
  • Healthy Waterways Strategy progress & updates: showcasing updates on HWS targets.
  • Networking (long coffee breaks)
  • Regional vs. local approaches (bottom-up): accountabilities at all levels of government
  • Strategic priorities: possible projects and collaborations, setting priorities together to target limited resources (vs. funding what is ready to go)

Geraldine Plas provided an update on the Region-wide Leadership Group, stating that an interim region-wide leadership group had been set up and was considering input from the catchment forums and how best to connect with the forums.

Prachi Samir (DELWP) provided an update on Waterways of the West. She made reference to the Ministerial Advisors Committee (MAC) for government consideration of how to manage and protect waterways in Melbourne’s west and to the community vision process. She stated thatthe discussion paper by the MAC with input of the vision will be available for public consultation in July/August, and announced that a community assembly had been convened to develop a vision.

Jesse Barrett closed the workshop thanking participants and outlining next steps:

  • Geraldine Plas to convene the core group to digest outcomes of today and start planning for next conversation.
  • Region-wide Leadership Group meeting on Friday May 31st to progress terms of reference (more information to be available)
  • Reporting framework (MERI) draft available for comments in June

Full details of discussions, outcomes, and next steps are outlined in the report attached in the Document Library section.

We thank everyone who contributed to the workshop, and we welcome everyone’s feedback on how we can continue to create healthy waterways together in the Maribyrnong catchment.