Celebrating Innovation in NRM

James and I had a quick road trip to Bunbury for the 2015 South West Catchments Council (SWCC) Celebration conference. This two day even has a first day that is invite only and we were lucky enough to get another invite – making it the third year we have been to this great event.

Our relationship with SWCC goes back a long way, to when we started developing an online GIS for them that has since bloomed into our GRID product – the SWCC team even named it!  So this has been a great partnership where we’ve not only worked with them on their spatial infrastructures but we also provide ongoing support and regular training to them and to the catchment groups that they support.

Arriving in Bunbury for the first day, we were greeted with a wonderful view out over Koombana Bay, just to the west from the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre.  We just recently added the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre project to our Citizen Science hub and during the Welcome to Country from Aunty Nora, Troy Bennell and his family I even saw a dolphin out in the bay cruising amongst the boats.*


A great view out onto Koombana Bay

During the first day, we had a real focus on innovation.  We had a great keynote from Helen Barclay from Inventium, which was engaging, practical and there are a few things  that I’ll be taking away from there, such as the need to start brainstorming sessions with “solo time” to really ensure that all personality types contribute equality and to optimise participants creativity.  Following that, we had a presentation about “Click! Colours”, something we use in the office regularly.  I think we surprised a few people by the groups that James and I ended up in (here’s a hint: we love hugs and lists)!

In the last session of the day, we participated in a great session with Gerry Gannon on media training.  This is something you really need advice from professionals in – media training is something hard to get right unless you get the insight from people like Gerry, who can put it together in a very effective and fun way.  It was one of those sessions where my brain and face hurt – my brain from the amount of information I was trying to take in, and my face from laughing so much.

The dinner can be summed up with one phrase – “RING TAILED POSSUM!”  Team Pictionary is seriously fun, but you had to be there.  Pip might not live this down for a while… especially when the Twitter hashtag for the event changed from #nrminnovation to #ringtailedpossum as a result!

The second day was a series of keynotes, including Ashley Sparrow from CSIRO giving a diverse talk on psychology and ecology, Jeff Pow and Michelle McManus talking about their amazing work at Southampton Homestead, and Alan Grist covering off on their roadside revegetation process.  However, crammed into 5 minute slots in the two Message Stick half hours were a series of informative, hilarious, and innovative presentations about work being done right across the SWCC region, and this remains one of my favourite parts of the conference every year.

This year we also participated by asking attendees to nominate “where they are coming from”, and documenting this in an Activity within SWCC’s GRID implementation.  This was a good way to show just where all the people came from in the conference, and resulted in a map as shown below.  We’re going to do this again next year and see if we can’t see some patterns over time.


It was great to catch up with all of the staff from SWCC, their partners and stakeholders and all the people across the SWCC region that are involved in natural resource management (NRM).  One of the take home messages I keep hearing from many NRM events is to avoid using the term NRM outside of the “industry”!  It has sparked a few ideas in my head – but what would you call it instead?  Leave your ideas in the comments below, or start a conversation with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

I can’t wait for the next Celebration in 2016 – there will be much to celebrate over the next year, I suspect!


* Not like those pesky Swan River dolphins that keep away from me all the time, Bunbury dolphins appear to be quite friendly.

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