KeynotesIntroducing our distinguished keynote speakers

Driving leadership, partnerships, sustainability and cultural connections
to our wetlands.

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At the centre of the WA Wetlands Conference, keynotes drive the shared daily dialogue that connects the wetland professionals and stakeholders in attendance from around WA. These presentations run for one hour each, showcasing some of our most inspired thinkers as they tackle the most timely topics of today and tomorrow.

We have included two keynotes each of the first and second days of the Conference, one each for the morning and afternoon sessions. These will be conducted in the main hall and are accessible to all delegates.

Explore some of our recently-announced Keynotes for the WA Wetlands Conference below and stay tuned for additional programs. For more sessions by inspiring creatives, browse through our Program webpage.

Sustainable Waterways Program: Then, Now, Future and Forever WA Waterways

Waterways in Western Australia have seen significant changes over the many years since the establishment of Western Australia. Many significant challenges are facing the waterways as we continue to develop and as the population increases. The Sustainable Waterways Program is an opportunity to address key water management challenges in Western Australia, by developing a shared vision for WA Waterways, and through collaboration initiate meaningful, repeatable solutions in readiness for Perth Bicentennial celebrations. The program will bring together key stakeholders and offer a platform for sharing collective knowledge about the Western Australian Waterways, with the aim of positioning the waterways as a key pillar of social, cultural, economic and environmental prosperity of the state of Western Australia.

Western Australia’s Bicentenary is a rare opportunity to convert the community’s very strong spiritual and emotional connection to the State’s Waterways to impactful social, economic, and environmental outcomes based on weaving together the traditional ecological knowledge and values of the First Nation’s people with western science and community values. This program seeks to deliver meaningful engagement and impact within the complex landscape of community, policy makers, leaders, Traditional Owners and decision-makers through Research and a body of knowledge that leads and enables meaningful conversations to protect and help our Waterways to thrive. Facilitated stakeholder workshops nurturing co-ordinated leadership, governance, management and policy for future best practice conservation, culture and community; and the development of meaningful action plans and repeatable solutions. This presentation will be an open invitation to all to join this exciting conversation over the next 10 years and beyond.

Prof. Anas Ghadouani

School of Engineering, University of Western Australia

Anas is currently a Professor and programme chair for Environmental Engineering at The University of Western Australia where he leads a research group focused on the study of a range of topics in water resources (water and wastewater), ecological engineering and environmental engineering, with an emphasis on the development of innovative technologies.

Anas has more than twenty years of research and teaching experience in the water area and has led numerous large scale multidisciplinary projects nationally and internationally. He is an expert advisor to a number of organisations and agencies in Australia and internationally, and serves on editorial boards of international journals. He is also a board member of UWA Publishing, and a fellow of the UWA Public Policy Institute.

Anas is a founding member and past Executive Director of the $120M Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) established in 2012. This role includes both operation and scientific leadership in this large multidisciplinary research centre, the coordination of the research and translation program of the CRC.

Keynote | SUSTAINABILITY | Day 1 | First Session

Listening to Women: Intersections between First Nation and Western Values

The experiences and contributions of First Nation (and other) women remain underrepresented in institutional histories of our lands as well as in large-scale land management. This session will explore the importance of listening to women for advancing reconciliation and for intergenerational learning. This involves placing critical attention on guidance by Elder women, and co-design, creation and curation of knowledge, stories, and sites. We discuss projects that promote an inclusive vision of the past, present, future, in which First Nation women take on important leadership roles. Greater public recognition of women's contribution can demonstrate not only their past impact but also serve to create role models for their future leadership. This is an important intervention as Australia places significant legislative and policy attention aimed at higher levels of inclusivity. This talk will discuss ways to appropriately represent diverse voices, making a direct and critical contribution to today’s discussions about our present, and empowering First Nation women to see themselves as tomorrow's leaders.

Marie Taylor, Prof Susan Broomhall,
Chelsey Thomson & Gina Pickering

The Wetlands Centre Cockburn, Australian Catholic University,
Yelakitj Moort Nyungar Association, Latitude Creative Services

Marie Taylor was awarded NAIDOC Elder of the Year at the 2022 Perth Awards. Marie has contributed her cultural knowledge as Elder in Residence at Holyoake, and currently at the Wetlands Centre at Walliabup Bibra Lake. She wrote a curriculum unit introducing Nyungar Language for Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students at Murdoch University and has informed a range of heritage planning outcomes for the rivers.

Susan Broomhall, Director of the Women and Gender History Research Centre at the Australian Catholic University, is a scholar of historical gender analysis, who has a long history of public engagement projects focussed on foregrounding women's voices and stories. Her community projects include stories of women's experiences in WA's apple industry, early First Nations resistance to colonial settlement, emotional engagement with Derbal Yerrigan and Djarlgarro Beelier, and more recently, Nyungar women's arboreal knowledge and Aboriginal women's fire management.

Chelsey Thomson is a mother of seven and a grandmother. Family is important and she is now a cultural presenter with Yelakitj Moort Nyungar Association. She assists also with ceremonies relative to these events. Chelsey has recently contributed to Dr Nandi Chinna's WA Writer's Fellowship poetry initiative.

Gina Pickering, Principal of Latitude Creative Services, is a writer, curator and content producer who has developed interpretive strategies for places of state and national significance for over 20 years. Gina is a PhD candidate and her contributions to cultural outcomes are acknowledged with national and state-based awards.

(From top-right, anti-clockwise) Dr Libby Jackson-Barrett, Prof. Mindy Blaise & Prof. Pierre Horwitz

Keynote | RECONCILIATION & TRUTH_TELLING | Day 1 | Second Session

Rehabilitating Roe 8: How to Deconstruct a Road and Restore Wetlands & Woodlands, with lots of Community Input

Rehabilitating Roe 8 (RR8) is a ten-year project, running from 2018 to 2028. It arose after clearing in 2016 and 2017 for the highly controversial 'Roe Highway, Stage 8'. The main aim of the project is to restore habitat in the corridor back to its original state (or as close as possible). There are seven distinct habitat types in the RR8 corridor, making it a complex restoration exercise. These include Wet Forest and Woodland, Banksia Woodland and the relatively rare Banksia-Woody Pear Woodland. An integral part of the project is community input. The RR8 Advisory Committee gives guidance and advice to the Project Manager, who implements the on ground work. The committee is currently made up of 15 members from local community groups, Nyungar groups, community individuals and a research institute. On top of this, extra consultation is completed for particular aspects such as the Path Network and Nyungar consultation relating to archaeological surveys. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in planting events and workshops throughout the year. Some groups go 'above and beyond'. The Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor is a highly active group, with custodianship over a patch of Banksia-Tuart Woodland in Hamilton Hill. Every fortnight they meet up on Saturday mornings to do hand weeding. This hard yakka avoids the need for chemical weed control and the effects are visible: native daisies proliferate in their patch, while they are absent in the rest of the corridor. The theory is that non-target effects of herbicides inhibit the recruitment of certain native species. RR8 shows that land clearing is reversible and that rewilding our cities is possible. The benefits are clear: biodiversity gains, carbon sequestration, giving city dwellers access to nature, reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect and more. This talk will summarise progress to date and highlight the value of community engagement in this space.

Adam Peck

Rehabilitating Roe 8 Project City of Cockburn

Adam Peck has a BSc in Environmental Restoration, with Honours from Murdoch University. He has worked for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, doing research on mallee revegetation/productivity (2006-15) and project management for the Aboriginal Ranger Program (2021-22). He was Black-Cockatoo Project Coordinator at BirdLife Australia between 2016 and 2021, coordinating the Great Cocky Count and Carnaby's breeding surveys. Since April 2022, he has worked for the City of Cockburn managing the Rehabilitating Roe 8 project. The project involves revegetation, community and Nyungar engagement, event management and much more.

Co-presenting: Lou Corteen, Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor

Keynote | PARTNERSHIPS | Day 2 | First Session

Towards a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands

Interest in a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands has been developed through a series of workshops and partnerships initiated through the Society of Wetland Scientists. The essential component of the proposed Declaration is that all wetlands are entities that are entitled to inherent and enduring rights, which derive from their existence as members of the Earth community and should possess legal standing in courts of law. These inherent rights include the following:

  1. The right to exist
  2. The right to their ecologically determined location in the landscape
  3. The right to natural, connected and sustainable hydrological regimes
  4. The right to ecologically sustainable climatic conditions
  5. The right to have naturally occurring biodiversity, free of introduced or invasive species that disrupt their ecological integrity
  6. The right to integrity of structure, function, evolutionary processes and the ability to fulfil natural ecological roles in the Earth’s processes
  7. The right to be free from pollution and degradation
  8. The right to regeneration and restoration.

The proposal has been presented to delegates at the Ramsar Convention and is being further discussed with local communities and advocates for the rights of nature. The latter having been acknowledged in the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted through the Convention on Biological Diversity. Other steps include placing the suggested rights within the context of decisions adopted by the Ramsar Convention, and seeking to understand how these rights support existing wetland conservation ethics and practices, and support complementary approaches for ensuring the sustainability and restoration of wetlands. At this stage there is proposal towards a universal declaration of the rights of wetlands - this is seen as the start of a dialogue with every expectation that the proposal could evolve as more wisdom and knowledge is shared, and legal and policy implications are elaborated.​

Prof Max Finlayson

Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water & Environment, Charles Sturt University

Professor Max Finlayson is an adjunct researcher at Charles Sturt University with an interest in wetland ecology and management. This has included acting as an independent technical advisor over the past three decades to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, participating in global environmental assessments, and supporting scientific societies and non-governmental organisations. In recent years this has included co-leading the Wetland Concerns Committee of the Society of Wetland Scientists that has explored the development of proposals for the Rights of Nature in Wetlands.

Keynote | LEADERSHIP | Day 2 | Second Session

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