The water sector plays an important role in supporting Victoria’s economic performance. By driving innovation, inclusivity and accountability we are contributing to economic activity across the state.
We are looking at investing in research to ensure the water sector is keeping pace with jobs and economic growth in Victoria.
We have invested $1.5 million in the Water Sensitive Cities Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to encourage innovation in the water sector. The Water Sensitive Cities CRC brings together inter-disciplinary research expertise and thought-leaders to address key challenges for water reform and to improve the efficiency of urban water systems in Australian cities.
Your Water Supplier’s Performance
Water for Victoria aims to improve accountability and transparency in the water sector. In February 2017, we established clear expectations, priorities, performance measures, and appropriate benchmarking for water corporations with a letter of expectations sent to the Chairs of Victoria’s water corporation boards. Water corporations have all responded to the expectations and addressed them in their 2017–18 corporate plans. We are creating a revised performance framework to
measure how these expectations are being met.
Performance achievements will be published on a new performance tool that is being developed on our website. The public can view water sector performance on measures like carbon reduction, customer service, climate change, liveability, Aboriginal values and recreational water.
We have published the seven priority policy areas on our website. You can also view the measures that will be used to track performance. The first performance data comparing water suppliers will be available in 2018.
Driving strong performance and promoting cultural diversity and gender equity in the water sector
As of 1 October 2017, 53 per cent of all water corporation board directors are women including 11 of the 19 board chairs. Sixty per cent of board directors on the 10 Catchment Management Authority boards are now women, including six board chairs. All CMA boards now have more than 50 per cent female membership.
Cultural diversity has also improved with five CMA board directors identifying as Aboriginal Victorians.
Gender equity has been achieved on our water boards while maintaining skill based boards. The wider water sector has also embraced the benefits of gender equity by developing diversity strategies to deliver on this important initiative for its 6,000 employees across the state.
We are also investing $90,000 to support inclusivity and diversity in leadership across the sector through the Peter Cullen Trust’s Women in Water Leadership Program. This highly regarded program is for women who are active in water system science, advocacy or management and who have the interest and potential to assume leadership roles in the sector. Several participants have already become Fellows of the Peter Cullen Trust.
Victoria is proud of its cultural diversity. We need a range of perspectives on boards and commissions representing this diversity so that we can make better and more informed decisions.
Traditional Owners have managed Australia’s land and water sustainably over many thousands of generations. Incorporating Traditional Owners’ diversity of knowledge and experience into the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) commission represents a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the sustainable management of our water systems.
Mr Rueben Berg has been appointed as the fourth Commissioner of the VEWH and will provide it with an understanding of Aboriginal traditional ecological knowledge and values associated with environmental water.
Mr Berg’s commitment to Aboriginal affairs in Victoria paired with his knowledge of water issues made him an extremely inspiring candidate. Mr Berg’s appointment is for a period of approximately two years to coincide with the expiration of the terms of current VEWH Commissioners.
The Essential Services Commission (ESC) has been working with water corporations to improve support for customers affected by family violence in line with a recommendation from the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Water corporations must now have and implement a family violence policy. Each water corporation’s policy includes:
- training and support for staff
- secure handling of information for the safety of customers
- debt management, payment support and service continuity for affected customers
- a means of referring affected customers to specialist family violence services.
Water corporations and the ESC are now focussed on ensuring the best ways to meet these requirements are established across the sector. From 1 July 2018, the ESC will monitor and report on whether the water businesses have implemented their family violence policies.
The Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy was released in 2016. It encourages increasing the community’s awareness about flood risks and enabling active management of risks to minimise the consequences to life, property, community wellbeing and the economy.
A key implementation action of the strategy is to undertake Regional Flood Mapping projects to meet a range of business requirements. Outputs will be used to define flood related controls in Municipal Planning Schemes, to develop flood intelligence products, inform emergency response planning and assist in the preparation of community flood awareness and education products. Results from the program will be provided to the insurance industry and to support the assessment of flood risk for insurance purposes.
To date the Avon River, Deans Creek and Barongarook Creek and Lower Wimmera River flood mapping projects are now complete. Flood mapping projects in the Lower Loddon River, Granite Creeks, Upper Ovens River, Avoca River, Upper Murray River, Fitzroy River and Snowy River are on track to be completed by June 2018. The West Gippsland CMA have begun the Lower Thomson flood mapping project while the Mitchell River flood mapping project has also started, and the Regional Floodplain Mapping project for the Swan Hill Region is currently being tendered.
Work is progressing with local governments across our regions and the water sector to ensure they are resilient, have clarity of their roles in emergency management, and have improved capability and capacity to comply with Victoria’s emergency management requirements and meet the needs of the Victorian community.
We are also upgrading the web-based water sector portal that is used to collect, analyse, monitor and report on bluegreen
algae, dam safety and other key water sector risks. The upgraded water sector portal will ensure that the water sector has enhanced information systems and processes to monitor, evaluate, communicate and report on the management of risks.
Liveability Victoria International (LVI) promotes and supports the export of Victorian expertise in water, urban design, clean-tech and environmental services. LVI works with Trade Victoria to provide international governments, businesses and industries with access to the best of Victoria’s expertise, products and services that help create liveable cities.
Since it was established in 2016, LVI has been involved in or hosted 22 inbound delegations and supported six outbound trade missions and delegations. These activities have included engagement with China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, Botswana, Kenya, Iran, New Zealand, Singapore and Timor Leste. LVI has promoted Victorian capabilities at conferences including the World Water Congressin Brisbane, an International Seminar on the Indian National Hydrology Project in Pune, India, the New Urban Agenda Conference and the Ecocity World Summit in Melbourne. LVI hosted a group of senior government officials from Sichuan province in China - one of our two sister states – for an intensive liveability program in October 2017.
LVI also delivered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DELWP and the Jiangsu Department of Housing and Urban- Rural Development on sponge city development. The MoU formalises and strengthens Victoria’s long-standing partnership and relationship with Jiangsu Province, and will support China’s response to climate change and urbanisation pressures through ecological and sustainable development.
We will drive strong governance and performance across the water sector by supporting a culture of continuous improvement though transparency and accountability.
Each water corporation is developing proposed prices, service standards and customer outcomes for the five-year period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2023. Through Water for Victoria and the Minister’s letter of expectations we have made it clear that we expect prices to remain stable or preferably fall over the coming price period. The water corporations have also engaged extensively with customers to understand their expectations of price and service.
The price proposals were submitted to Victoria’s independent economic regulator, the ESC, in September 2017. The ESC is now reviewing the proposals to ensure Victoria’s water corporations are providing value for money, judged by the outcomes that will be delivered to customers in return for the prices they pay, and how this reflects what customers value most. Customers will have further opportunities to provide views as part of the ESC's review process. The ESC's final determinations will be released in mid-2018.
We are collaborating with the water sector to find opportunities to reduce red tape and develop a reporting mechanism to identify, capture and assess instances of red tape on a continuous basis.