Australian Water Association NSW State Conference Wrap Up

Australian Water Association NSW State Conference Wrap Up

We took a winter trip to sunny Port Macquarie on NSW’s mid-north coast for the Australian Water Association (AWA) NSW Conference recently. Here’s what we loved about the conference:

The focus on communications and engagement

Sometimes when we attend communications and engagement specific conferences, it can feel a bit like we’re preaching to the converted; everyone in the room knows and appreciates how crucial communications and engagement is. So, we decided to broaden our approach and attend some industry conferences for the sectors we work with. The AWA NSW Conference was first up.

Happily, nearly every presentation—no matter how technical or full of engineering words we had to google—mentioned how important it is to communicate and engage with the community and other stakeholders. Presenters each said it differently, and sometimes it was subtle, but it was definitely there.

This aligns with our experience working with project teams in the last few years: these teams now see communications and engagement as integral to a project’s success and not as a burden or ‘tick a box’ exercise. It was fantastic to see this right across the two days of AWA NSW sessions.

Exhibitors in the room

AWA NSW was unique in that industry exhibitors were co-located with the conference presentations, so all parts of the water industry were in the same room. This meant that researchers, the people doing the work, and the people with the tech to help, could connect with each other.

Sometimes, it also showed exhibitors that they need to get better at promoting and telling people about their products. Luckily for them, there were some communications professionals in the room! We made some great new friends this way and enjoyed getting to speak to everyone.

Short and sharp

We loved the format of this conference: 20 minute sessions, including question time, broken into different themes. Sticking to one theme for a few sessions was a great way to get a feel for current issues and initiatives in areas like water security, regional water management, or water reuse.

The shorter sessions also kept the room’s attention and, as a result, meant we were all more engaged with the presenter and their work.

The 2022 AWA NSW Conference was a great first industry conference for us to attend. We learnt more about the water industry, met passionate people, and got to visit beautiful Port Macquarie. All around, big success!