From the beach to the hills ...
From the beach to the hills, from farms to rivers, from Aboriginal bush medicines to the complex management of the Murray-Darling River Basin, an AusAID-funded Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship group from China has experienced a huge spectrum of what Australia has to offer in Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM), and much more.
The 15 fellows from the Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC) spent some of the six weeks of the program travelling through eastern and southern Australia with academics and practitioners from the International WaterCentre and its partners, and from local government, academic and community groups.
“In the last six weeks I have very much enjoyed being a student again,” said Mr Cui Wu, Division Chief of the Yellow River Henan Bureau. “I have been a river basin manager for 20 years, and I have loved these last six weeks learning as a student again.”
On North Stradbroke Island off the coast of Queensland, the Fellows were taken on a walking tour with an Aboriginal guide, where they learnt how Aboriginal culture and the protection of the environment work together for the benefit of both.
In Brisbane, Mr Graeme Milligan from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority led the group in a session on flood forecasting, prevention and reconstruction, using the 2011 Queensland flood and Cyclone Yasi as examples.
In Toowoomba, on the Great Dividing Range, the Fellows learnt about IRBM policy, then talked with local farmers about the conflict between agriculture and mining in the area.
In the Murray River area they learnt about river management on a broader scale along this most important of Australian rivers. They spoke to catchment management associations and local dairy farmers and agriculturalists, and debated with them the roles of government and farmers in managing water and the effects of extreme weather, and other pertinent issues.
The trip ended in Melbourne, where the Fellows met with Melbourne Water and the Monash University Sustainability Institute, and participated in field trips and case studies on Water Sensitive Cities.
Feedback from the trip was overwhelmingly positive, with the Fellows sharing much of their own knowledge with the Australian group, and taking back to China some very special memories to share with families and knowledge to share with co-workers.
“Although I have been away from home for six weeks, I never felt alone,” said Mr Huang, from the YRCC. This sentiment was echoed by others in the group, as they said their farewells and returned home to put their new learnings into practice.