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Narelle Graham (Australia)

Narelle Graham_profile

Team Leader, Environmental Strategy

Canterbury Bankstown Council                                                         

Master of Integrated Water Management
(with IWC Scholarship)

Currently studying


About Narelle

I am a leader in environmental education and place-based education and engagement and have many years of experience working with the community and facilitating community participation in environmental programs that reduce our impact on the planet and create more vibrant and liveable places. I have developed and implemented award winning education programs and in 2011 was acknowledged by my peers by winning the Environmental Educator of the Year NSW, awarded by the Australian Association of Environmental Educators.

During my eight years as Team Leader Environmental Strategy at City of Canterbury Bankstown, I have built a team recognised within the organisation for our collaborative practice and for showing leadership for sustainability. I have been strong advocate for regional partnership projects, which requires excellent communication skills and establishing clear governance structures and partnerships early on. I have chaired and participated in many steering committees and working groups, which we have established to guide and implement regional and cross divisional projects. 

In my personal life I am a passionate kayaker and regularly volunteer to lead tours on the Cooks River, Wolli Creek and Botany Bay to educate people about waterway health and have been doing this for more than 10 years with the River Canoe Club Tempe.

 "Interdisciplinary approaches maximise opportunities for cost effectiveness and leads to solutions that are optimised for greater social, environmental and economic benefit."

Why interdisciplinary approaches are important

In the past planning has occurred in isolation, at too large a scale and generally as a single issue approach with little to no community involvement. For example engineers designed stormwater systems to remove water quickly from our urban areas primarily to reduce flooding, water quality or water reuse was not addressed.

An interdisciplinary approach encourages solutions to address multiple issues, such as stormwater quality, amenity, water conservation and flooding and brings together multidisciplinary teams which leads to early identification and prevention of potential problems. An interdisciplinary approach in all stages of planning maximises opportunities for cost effectiveness and leads to solutions that are optimised for greater social, environmental and economic benefit.

The Our River Sustainability Initiative, built on Marrickville Council’s USWIM model, utilising a collaborative, context-based and multi-disciplinary processes designed to address the problems identified above. The Our River project followed these fundamental principles:

  • working at a sub-catchment or local scale

  • working with multi-disciplinary teams

  • working collaboratively with local communities and other stakeholders to develop and   implement sub-catchment management plans; and

  • Addressing regional governance issues. 

My involvement in the Our River project and subsequently the Cooks River Alliance has demonstrated to me the value and success of this approach in delivering sustainable outcomes for the environment. My experience has been to champion SUWM to keep it on the agenda at all levels of my organisation, facilitate community and multi-disciplinary forums, and develop visions and action plans which informed two sub-catchment management plans.

Beginning the MIWM journey

I attended the Monash University Winter School presented by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities in 2014, which inspired me to continue my learning and apply for this master’s program and scholarship. This study program will immerse me in understanding the technical, social and economic rationale for making Water Sensitive Urban Design the business as usual way rather than something that is extra and added on when funds become available, assisting my organisation in moving from a Waterways City to a Water Cycle City.

My practical involvement with the Cooks River Alliance and the on-ground works continues to inform my current practice and motivates me to continue to study in this area, and I would like to gain the Master’s degree so that I can become a specialist in urban water management and progress my career solely in this field. Obtaining this qualification would assist me in continuing to raise the profile and for making a case for Sustainable Urban Water Management regionally, through the Cooks River Alliance, especially now, when local government in NSW is going through substantial change, it will be important to champion integrated water management to keep it on the catchment councils’ agenda.

My current skills in environmental education, strategy development, communication and facilitation along with my practical experience in implementing WSUD projects is an asset for further academic pursuit in this field and is the logical next step to further my career, feed my passion and make a difference.


The International WaterCentre Master of Integrated Water Management creates water leaders by drawing on international teaching and research from many fields to provide a transdisciplinary, whole-of-water-cycle approach to water management.  


IWC Masters Scholarships


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