The CRCWSC launched Vision and Transition Strategy for a Water Sensitive Bendigo on Tuesday 17 July 2018, at the Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo, Victoria. The event was opened by Marilyne Nicholls of Dja Dja Wurrung and Councillor Margaret O’Rourke, Mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo.

This strategy defines a vision of a water sensitive future for Bendigo, and outlines the broad steps that Bendigo should take to enable transition. It is the outcome of more than nine months of research, analysis and engagement with water sensitive city (WSC) champions from the city’s water, planning and development, environment and community sectors.

The vision for a water sensitive Bendigo is articulated below:

Bendigo is a thriving inland city, where water innovation supports healthy people, green environments and resilient systems.

  1. Bendigo’s people are happy and healthy, enjoying life in a green, connected and equitable city.
  2. Bendigo is resilient to climate extremes and has integrated, efficient and adaptive regional water, energy and food systems.
  3. Bendigo’s creeks are cherished links in Bendigo’s healthy natural environment.
  4. Communities actively care for Bendigo’s water and land environments, guided by Dja Dja Wurrung knowledge and values.
  5. Consistent and inclusive governance supports an empowered community and integrated, adaptive approaches to water planning and management.
  6. Bendigo is an inland water innovation hub, grounded in education, research and design excellence.

This 50-year water sensitive vision for Bendigo aims to orient and align the actions of stakeholders over the long term. A defining feature of Bendigo’s WSC vision is that it was co-created with industry and community, including the Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation. Workshop participants recognised the importance of and need for a shared vision across these stakeholder groups, and the role of community in driving and achieving that vision.

For Bendigo to achieve its 50-year vision, it will need to explore options for better integration and collaboration that permeate all levels of decision making, scales of implementation, and elements of the water cycle. Those attending the launch were optimistic about Bendigo’s water sensitive future, and discussed options for achieving the water sensitive city vision:

I think one of the greatest assets we have in Bendigo is an engaged and interested community and the results from the workshops really demonstrate that. I think the conversation is ripe and ready to go within our community and there are champions who can help us forge that which is really exciting. Meg Caffin, Urban Forest Consulting

Having a combined shared vision really helps, and we should not be afraid to try some innovative solutions. We might not get it right every time but we have to be willing to be brave and try new ways to solve the big challenges facing Bendigo. Rohan Hogan, NCCMA

It’s what we do every day, we all need to be champions of being a water sensitive city. The region has access to sufficient water for the longer term, economic development of the region relies on our long term water needs. If we all practise being a water sensitive city, in the long term it’s going to save a lot of money. Neville Pearce, Coliban Water

There are important values [within the landscape] that are more than just the physical creek, it’s also the stories and practice. Part of the WSC vision and strategy is to share knowledge and values of the creek. To do this, the creek has to be able to support these things within it, because if they are not there how can you teach people about the platypus of yam daisies or weaving—how can you pass this on if these pieces are not there? Nathan Wong, Dja Dja Wurrung

I think community connectedness is pretty important [for becoming a water sensitive city]. We’re all traveling the same path and we are in it together. Ken Beasley, community member

If we are going to become a city of 200,000 people, becoming a water sensitive city is not an option. It’s something we will have to do. Tania Macleod, City of Greater Bendigo

Jeff Rigby, Managing Director of Coliban Water, closed the event by acknowledging the joint work and collaboration of everyone involved, and expressing Coliban Water’s commitment to working towards achieving Bendigo’s shared water sensitive city vision.

We received good   media coverage about the launch, with an item in the   Bendigo Advertiser and also   a clip on the local news station.

The publication is an output of CRCWSC Integrated Research Project 1 (IRP1): Water sensitive city visions and transition strategies. It highlights key findings and recommendations from a workshop series with industry and community stakeholders. Its companion report, Benchmarking, envisioning, and transition planning for a Water Sensitive Bendigo: final case report has a complete account of the workshop results, including a provisional short-to-medium term action plan.

For more information

Contact Katie Hammer on +61 3 9905 4213 or katie.hammer@monash.edu