Past Event: Think Tank 2: Are we drought ready? Local adaptation in rural & regional Victoria

Think Tank 2 Are We Drought Ready
    • Thu, March 23 20239:00am AEST
    • Thu, March 23 20231:00pm AEST
  • La Trobe University Bendigo, The Gallery, Library and Student Union Building Edwards Road Flora Hill, VIC 3550
  • Book Tickets
Think Tank 2 Are We Drought Ready

** In-person bookings for Bendigo close Tuesday 21 March, 5pm ADST **

** Online bookings open until 7am day of the event **


Even though it’s been wet, the next drought is likely to be around the corner. So what’s being planned now? Is rural Victoria prepared?

While mitigating global greenhouse gases remains critically important in slowing the pace of climate change, Victorian communities must prepare for the realities of a hotter and drier climate. Victoria is predicted to experience more frequent extremes such as heatwaves, bushfires and drought.

So what does this mean at a local level for our regional and rural communities? This Think Tank event by the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub is an opportunity to better understand what planning work is being undertaken now by local governments, water authorities and other key organisations to ensure our towns and farming communities are well prepared for the next drought.

You’ll also hear from scientists and key researchers on the challenges facing Victoria’s most important ecosystems and agricultural land. Climate adaptation is a new frontier for local communities and balancing the economic, social and environmental imperatives is critical to success.

This event is free, and morning tea and lunch are provided. 

We’ll explore these key questions – and more:

* How can we best balance the climate science and predictions with local community needs?

*How do we ensure all voices are heard, for ‘just adaptation’?

* How do we best involve local communities in water management and what water projects should we be looking at now?

*What local climate adaptation projects are working well? What are some local government examples from overseas?


* Arrive at 8:45am for a 9am start

900am – Welcome to Country & Smoking Ceremony – Conducted by a Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner

MC – Dr Sara Hely, Director of Research, Riverine Plains (North East Vic Hub Node)

9:15am – Bendigo Council Welcome – Cr Andrea Metcalf (Mayor, City of Greater Bendigo)

9:17am: Victoria Drought Hub Welcome: Prof. Michael Tausz, Director of the Victoria Drought and Innovation Hub.

  9:20am – Keynote Speaker – Dr Rob Faggian, Associate Professor, Climate Change Adaptation, Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, Deakin University.

Dr. Robert Faggian, is a recognized expert in the field of climate change adaptation. With a strong background in biology and agricultural science, his work focuses on developing practical strategies to respond to the challenges of climate change, with a particular emphasis on sustainable regional development. He has led numerous successful local and international research projects on climate adaptation, water management, and agricultural production, and published extensively on his findings.

9:35am  -Panel – Involving local communities in water management and adaptation to drought 

Panel Chair: Dr Tim Clune, Senior Lecturer in Management and Human Resources and Agribusiness Advisor at La Trobe University

Guests: (40 mins) –

• Caroline Welsh Deputy Chair, GWMWater, member of the Victorian Agriculture Climate Change Council and the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee.

•  Damian Wells, Managing Director at Coliban Water

• Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Leader at FRRR (Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal)

10:15 – Morning Tea (20 Mins) 

10:35 Panel (45 mins) – Enabling communities to engage with science for successful adaptation to drought. 

Chair – Rebecca Wells, Chief Executive, Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (North West Irrigated Horticulture Vic Hub Node)


• Prof Rebecca Lester, Freshwater Ecologist and Director of the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, Deakin University

• Professor Richard Eckard, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Change Centre

• Ben Latham, Policy Advisor Climate Equity and Emergency Management, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS).

11:20 Panel (40 mins)  -What are local governments doing to adapt to drought…and what do they need to do it better?  

Panel Chair – Fiona Best, CEO Birchip Cropping Group (North West Node Vic Hub Node)

Panel Guests:

• Annika Kearton, Chief Executive, Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance

• Michelle Wyatt, Manager Climate Change and Environment at the City of Greater Bendigo

• Dona Cayetana, Community and Partnerships Program Manager, DEECA (Department of Energy Environment and Climate Action)

• Prof. Lauren Rickards, Chair of Climate Change Adaptation, La Trobe University

12pm – 1pm – LUNCH


IMPORTANT: Following this public fourm, we will hold a closed Think Tank from 1pm -3:30pm to discuss the key issues arising from the discussions, to find potential pathways to solutions and future collaborations. In particular, we are looking for local government representatives, water authority and CMA representatives and leaders of community organisations involved in climate adaptation projects (related to drought). If you would like to be part of this in-person closed Think Tank session, please contact event organiser, Vic Hub Knowledge Broker, Kirsten Diprose: