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Our catchments, Our communities (OCOC) leadership grants provide funding to early and mid-career individuals to develop their leadership skills, tackle big challenges, and make an impact in the field of natural resource and catchment management.

The grants support the Victorian Government's commitment to diversity and innovation in water and catchment management in line with Water for Victoria.

All of our grant recipients are listed below. Learn more about some of the things they've been able to achieve with their grants.

2023 recipients

Aboriginal leadership

Naomi Barry - Bunurong Land Council (BLC)
Build knowledge and capacity to establish a Sea Country team within BLC. Partake in cross-cultural learning from other Traditional Owner organisations with Sea Country teams and improve aquaculture knowledge for future opportunities within BLC.

Women in leadership

Vanessa Malandrin - Hughes Creek Catchment Collaborative, Landcare Group
Fund ‘train the trainer’ sessions to meet the high demand to educate others in her local catchment on soil health, soil ecology, grazing and farm water management

Rebecca Caldwell - Goulburn Broken CMA
Attend training to hear from industry professionals, and network with other women aspiring to enhance their leadership skills. Learnings from undertaking this training would enhance her confidence and leadership skills.


Thomas Sheehan - Working with Nature Glenelg Trust
Become a leader in using drones for catchment management by obtaining appropriate certification and GIS training to support environmental programs. This includes assessments, herbicide application, mapping and monitoring of pest plant and animals, native vegetation, wetlands, and landscape topography in inaccessible landscapes.

2022 recipients

Aboriginal leadership

Andrew (Cobba) Harrison - Wimmera CMA
Shadow experienced leaders to build confidence, knowledge and leadership skills in water management and support Traditional Owners to be key partners in water management.

Women in leadership

Francesca Noakes - North East CMA
Build conflict management, goal setting and staff management skills to support and help champion Traditional Owners in the north east region in NRM policy and strategy development.

Jane Walker - Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC)
Gain leadership skills to build GMTOAC’s capacity as a Traditional Owner Corporation and strengthen their strategic direction.

Kristen McNamara - Southern Rural Water
Develop communication and negotiation capacity to support a whole of system approach in infrastructure services and communicate this to colleagues and the community.

2020 recipients

Integrated catchment management: Lessons learnt and shared Matt is the Bellarine Catchment Network (BCN) program manager with 20 years of experience within various community-focused natural resource management (NRM) organisations.

He sits on a number of local, regional, and state-level advisory committees that extends his support for NRM communities while exposing him to different methods of integrated NRM at the community level. The BCN model of integrated NRM leads to efficient and effective program delivery while providing benefits to staff in organisations and to community groups.

Matt will participate in a professional leadership course through the Leaders for Geelong committee. This course will provide leadership skills to impart the BCN integrated NRM model across Geelong and the Bellarine and other regions across Victoria.

Improving capacity for indigenous engagement in natural resource management sector communications.

Tracey is employed by the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority as a Catchment Management Officer, engaging a wide range of partners and stakeholders in projects she coordinates, including promotional videos.

Through a coaching program, Tracey seeks to develop leadership skills as a female indigenous employee at the catchment management authority and within her own Indigenous community.

2019 recipients

Jenny is an Open Space Planner with Warrnambool City Council and has served three terms on the Glenelg Hopkins Advisory Group. Her experience in natural resource management is diverse, with over 18 years serving various roles in Landcare, 12 years in local government, reserve management, dairy farming experience and has completed an Honours and PhD research in the Glenelg Hopkins region.

Jenny is very passionate about the south-west Victoria region and is interested in using her wealth of experience to progress to NRM-related board representation in the future. Jenny plans to attend two courses run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors- the ‘Company Director’ and ‘Boardroom Effectiveness for Women’ training courses. The Company Director training course will cover understanding the role of a board member, compliance issues, leadership, process stream lining and strategic focus on financial and risk management. The Boardroom Effectiveness for Women training course will help Jenny better understand the unique qualities women bring to a board and effective board participation.

These courses will help Jenny develop the skills necessary to be an effective board member who is ready to take on an NRM-related board role and will complement her wealth of NRM experience in the region. She plans to share the knowledge and experience she gains through social media and other avenues.

Jacqui has studied and worked in natural resource management for over 20 years. She completed a PhD in Wetland Ecology in 2009 and has since worked as an Environmental Education Officer for the Clean Ocean Foundation and as a teacher of the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management at Chisholm Institute.

Since 2012 Jacqueline has been employed as a Landcare Facilitator for the Morning Peninsula Landcare Network. She supports 11 Landcare groups and collaborates with multiple government and not-for-profit agencies to deliver conservation projects.

Jacqui is passionate about promoting more women as role models in integrated catchment management and providing mentorship for those aspiring to become catchment leaders. Jacqui will attend the 2019 Women in Leadership program by Leadership Victoria, an intensive 3-day workshop that supports participants to develop the skills and confidence to achieve their leadership potential.

Jacqui will use the experience and knowledge she gains through this program to establish a mentoring program for women on the Mornington Peninsula and surrounds who are passionate about integrated catchment management and who would benefit from the support of experienced female leaders in the field.

The mentoring program will run for six months from October 2019 to April 2020. It will consist of workshops and one-to-one support during this period and will provide a space for mentors to gain leadership experience and develop their support networks and assist women just starting out in NRM to gain confidence in pursuing their career goals.

Danny aspires to be at the forefront of innovation and new methods in natural resource management. He holds a Certificate IV in Conversation and Land Management, qualifications in horticulture and has gained NRM experience through his role as Facilitator for the Loddon Plains Landcare Network. He also possesses experience in community engagement working with land managers and delivering proposals for environmental projects.

Danny plans to undertake training at the Australian Groundwater School and the Mulloon Institute to develop further his understanding of hydrology, natural sequence farming and identifying and capitalising on natural assets within landscapes to enhance production and maximise year-round vegetation ground cover.

Danny will then apply his new knowledge to conduct small-scale paddock research focused on water runoff, soil qualities, soil moisture and biodiversity of small vertebrates and invertebrates on-farm in the form of surveys as an indicator of on-farm biodiversity levels. He aims to compare conservation and vegetation coverage methods between a site under new management practices and a second farm as a control site.

The training will also allow Danny to better work with local farming enterprises and communities throughout the Loddon Plains area of central Victoria to raise awareness and introduce new practices to adapt to a drying climate.

Melinda possesses a wealth of cultural knowledge and experience in water custodianship and regularly liaises with water and catchment authorities, coast committees, water boards, and local councils. She serves on several ministerial and senior government advisory committees because of her expertise and cultural knowledge.

Melinda aspires to be a Water Country custodianship leader, particularly for Wadawurrung Country. She would like to offer new knowledge, management ideas and innovative approaches to other Aboriginal communities seeking to guide quality water management futures.

Melinda will undertake a two-week visit to 2 key South Australian water precedents - River Torrens Linear Park, which has existed since the early 1970s and the about-to-commence Sturt River Catchment Linear Park. The former traverses Kaurna Country under the care of the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC) and the City of Adelaide Council land, which is now under the care of the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. The latter is being designed for the City of Marion Council in conjunction with the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board and is also under the care of the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC.

The visit will include an inspection and talking first-hand with key Kaurna Elder(s) and the above-mentioned management bodies about the innovations, strategies, water trading and conservation initiatives and landscape design approaches used to manage these sites.

Key learnings will be bought back to Victoria and shared with other Aboriginal Water Officers and representatives about new insights gained through the experience.

Page last updated: 12/10/23