New IWA Young Water Professionals Chapter in Australia

As part of IWA’s mission to empower Young Water Professionals (YWPs) to contribute to sustainable water management, a new IWA Young Water Professionals (IWA YWPs) branded chapter was officially launched in Australia in April 2024. This IWA YWPs chapter will be the country’s go-to network boosting connections for YWPs and a platform to support equal opportunities and quality career development. As a voluntary network, the IWA YWPs Australia Chapter is open to all water professionals aged 35 or below who are enthusiastic, dedicated, and passionate about water-related issues. Here, Chelsea Hayward, Chair of the IWA YWP Australia Chapter and upcoming Chair of the IWA YWP Steering Committee for the term of 2024-2026, presents some key points about the group.


Q: What was the motivation for setting up an IWA YWP Chapter in Australia?

In Australia, we have strong YWP networks through the Australian Water Association (AWA), with a range of national-level events and initiatives on offer; however, many YWPs in Australia want to be better connected with the international water community to build diverse networks and learn more about global water matters. That’s where the IWA Australia YWP Chapter comes in, creating two-way links between the Australian and international water communities with a focus on YWPs. The Chapter will complement the existing YWP networks in Australia, offering YWPs the opportunity to build their networks beyond Australia’s borders.

Australian YWPs have a lot to learn from other countries and more experienced professionals in the sector, but they also have plenty to share. The IWA Australia YWP Chapter will allow YWPs to listen to and learn from others and share their perspectives.


Q: How will the chapter contribute to the empowerment of YWPs to contribute to the national water agenda of Australia?

The IWA Australia YWP Chapter will focus on fostering close collaboration between IWA and AWA (Australian Water Association) YWPs to benefit the complementary objectives of both organisations and their members. AWA and IWA’s visions and agendas have many similarities, aligning on building networks, knowledge sharing and youth’s important role in the water sector’s mission to create a sustainable water future. The IWA Australia YWP Chapter will contribute to both the national agenda and IWA’s vision by providing YWPs with opportunities for professional development and building their networks in Australia and internationally, empowering young professionals to share their perspectives and keep up to date on global water challenges and solutions. Initiatives delivered by the Chapter will focus on relationship building and two-way knowledge sharing, both geographical and generational. This will not only foster international connections but also connections across generations.


Q: What are your aims and objectives for your chapter, and what activities do you plan to do?

 The goal of the IWA Australia YWP Chapter is to promote professional development, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities for YWPs across Australia with a focus on links to global water matters and the international water community.

Our objectives are to:

  • Facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences, and knowledge among YWPs.
  • Support the professional development of YWPs through activities and education.
  • Promote the involvement of YWPs in research, innovation, and best practices in the water sector.
  • Encourage collaboration and networking among YWPs across Australia and foster links to the international water sector.

These will be achieved through organising a range of events and initiatives such as webinars and online get-togethers, leveraging existing YWP networks within AWA and IWA. We are particularly keen to create connections within the Asia Pacific region and are excited to explore opportunities to collaborate with other IWA YWP chapters.


Meet the founding committee of the IWA YWP Australia Chapter


Chelsea Hayward, Chair | Senior Process Engineer, Jacobs

Chelsea is a Senior Process Engineer in Jacobs’ water team with over seven years of experience addressing current and emerging water challenges. She has varied project experience, encompassing planning, design and project management on water and wastewater projects for a range of clients.

Chelsea strives to use her technical capabilities for good.  She is driven to give back to her community, inspiring the next generation of diverse STEM professionals and bettering the lives of all through access to clean water and sanitation. Chelsea is also a member of the IWA YWP Steering Committee and the IWA Specialist Group for Sustainability in the Water Sector Management Committee.


 Conan Peterson, Vice-Chair | Gatjin (Water) Project Manager, Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises

Conan’s interest lies in furthering water justice for Indigenous Peoples, helping secure water rights, and meaningfully including First Nations interests in water management and governance. Aqua Nullius and dispossession of water rights for Aboriginal groups persist today. If we want to see healthy waterways, a healthy Country, Indigenous peoples need to be meaningfully included and partnered with.

There is an abundance of wisdom to draw from the international community regarding Indigenous water management, and Conan hopes to draw this down to share with local communities.


 Miranda Rey-Flemming, Secretary | Graduate Civil Engineer, Jacobs

Miranda is a Graduate Civil Engineer in the Water Infrastructure team at Jacobs, working on Wurundjeri Country on projects around Victoria. After specialising in Indonesian Studies and International Relations at university, she is keen to meet like-minded YWPs through the IWA and looks forward to elevating youth perspectives on global water and climate topics. She also sits on the AWA YWP Victorian committee and is keen to use these networks to find common ground in local and international water issues.


Chris Lee, National Task Force Representative | Senior Policy Advisor (Water), Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action for the State Government of Victoria, Australia

Chris Lee is a Senior Policy Advisor for the water sector where he looks after the economic regulatory framework and customer protections for the water sector. He is based in Melbourne/Narrm where the Wurundjeri are the Traditional Owners of the land and waters. With a former landscape architecture background combined with his current policy role, he is keen on promoting Water Sensitive Urban Design and Integrated Water Management and has a special connection to water infrastructure across the world where he has family such as Hong Kong, Vietnam, Brazil and New Zealand (along with Australia of course!).


 Annabel Biddulph, Committee Member | Water Engineer, Arup

Annabel is a Water Engineer working in the Water Team at Arup in Sydney on Gadigal Land. After undertaking an environmental engineering and commerce degree at university she is now working on a range of future water infrastructure planning and strategic projects throughout the Sydney Region seeking to find efficient solutions to the way water services the community. She is passionate about the role water plays in creating sustainable and liveable regions into the future whilst also considering how to preserve water resources as the effects of climate change threaten water security.


 Patrick Schnelle, Committee Member | Senior Engineer, Atom Consulting

Pat is a Chartered Chemical Engineer with experience in the water, wastewater and infrastructure sectors across Australia and the Pacific. He provides engineering support and technical management across the value chain, from governance to strategy, planning, design, construction and operations. Pat collaborates closely with stakeholders to deliver tangible outcomes and shape resilient and liveable communities. In addition to his work, he is currently studying for a Master of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development.


 Elliot Cichero, Committee Member | Resilience and Climate Change Analyst, Sydney Water

Elliot is a Resilience and Climate Change Analyst for Sydney Water. His role is to measure the impact of climate change on Sydney Water’s assets and business functions, in addition to calculating the overall CO2 emissions generated by the business. He has combined this with experiences in regional planning (particularly in Western Sydney), wastewater infrastructure in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer, and various roles in wastewater networks and treatment plants. Elliot’s career aspirations are to combine his engineering experience, analytical strengths and leadership qualities into a role that provides value in the water and environment industry.


If you have questions regarding the IWA YWP Community, please, contact Isabela Espindola, IWA Membership Engagement Senior Officer.

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