March 2014

Our lifeblood – online river atlas for Victoria

25.03.2014 - Posted by Leonie Duncan
By the time marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse had swam the entire length of the Murray River she had knocked herself unconscious twice on submerged timber and eaten more than her fair share of that other type of snag, the barbequed variety. Yet she emerged from the experience more passionate than ever about the Murray River.

Tammy calls herself a human water quality tester. A day in the “office” can result in bouts of gastro and ear infections. But her epic journey along the Murray also gave Tammy a fish-eye view of many majestic sights, such as Gunbower Forest, and the chance to meet scores of locals who cheered her along and hosted barbeques in her honour. When Tammy reached the Murray Mouth – after 2438km and 106 days (yes, that is over three months in the water) – she achieved one of the six swimming world records she currently holds. That was back in 2000, but Tammy still talks about it with such energy that she might have well just completed the trip.

I heard Tammy van Wisse tell her story at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne last month, by the banks of the Yarra River. Tammy was there to help launch Environment Victoria’s new online river atlas. This project was the vision of Healthy Rivers Campaigner, Juliet Le Feuvre, and was brought to life by some dedicated volunteers.

The atlas is designed as an educational resource. It provides catchment-by-catchment information on river values, conditions, threats and priority actions to improve stream health, as well as photos, stories and links.

Image of the Goulburn River near Seymour from Environment Victoria's online river atlas

International Women's Day discussion

20.03.2014 - Posted by Amanda Shipp
To recognise International Women’s Day, our Melbourne office had a discussion recently at Friday lunch around women in leadership positions. This conversation commenced with a viewing of a TEDTalk by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and advocate for women’s rights. The TEDTalk was titled Why we have too few women leaders.

The talk outlines some statistics around the lack of women in leadership positions, despite increases in female graduates. It highlights some barriers to women advancing in the workplace.

Sheryl Sandberg offers three recommendations to women in the workplace to overcome these barriers:
• Lean in: women often need to be more confident, negotiate more, and take ownership of their success
• Make your partner a real partner: this is an issue for both men and women, and as a community we need to acknowledge the role of both men and women in the home and the workplace
• Don’t leave before you leave: it is important to encourage staff to continue to be engaged and challenged in their roles both before and after parental leave.

Since its inception, Alluvium has supported both men and women employees in balancing their family and workplace responsibilities. This is achieved by fostering a family-friendly workplace, as well as encouraging flexible working hours, parental leave and part-time arrangements. One regional manager is currently part-time.

Our open forum discussion acknowledged these positive aspects, but also identified that as a workplace we want to strive for further advancement.

Alluvium encourages diversity in opinions and approaches at all levels and roles within the company, but how do we make this happen? How do we continue to facilitate part-time positions at a management level?

How do we encourage everyone to question and challenge their unconscious bias? And how do we create an environment that enables and benefits from the attributes that women bring to leadership and the workplace?

We finished the discussion with a view of doing more - at both a management and a workplace level, and continuing to strive for a workplace that values diversity.

Sheryl Sandberg giving her TEDTalk about women in leadership positions.Image from Ted Blog.