Co-design: Shared strategy and science for rivers, creeks, wetlands and estuaries

Waterways are our rivers, creeks, wetlands, floodplains and estuaries, which are shared places of significance for Victoria’s economic productivity, communities, biodiversity and Aboriginal communities.

Between September 2016 and July 2018, Melbourne Water facilitated an extensive co-design process for developing the new Healthy Waterways Strategy to support the waterways of the Port Phillip and Westernport region for the next 50 years. The Strategy provides direction for the management of a marvellous array of waterways, from iconic rivers such as the Bunyip, Yarra, Maribyrnong and Werribee, to wetlands such as the Ramsar listed Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands and the vitally important rivers and creeks that generate so much community value such as the Steele, Merri, Darebin, Gardiners, Dandenong and Kananook creeks.

Collaborative design is a key strength of this Strategy, which has gone beyond traditional consultation approaches and has empowered the community and stakeholders to genuinely be involved in its creation and design.

Across each of the five catchments, a total of 23 workshops were held which has seen over 400 individuals join workshops representing over 220 organisations, with 65 percent of these attending more than one workshop. Community listening posts and interactive maps generated more than 2,600 comments on the strategy.

A complex array of scientific data, modelling and specialist expertise has been integrated into the strategy development process. This was founded on the last 10 years of leading edge research, which allowed us to use ‘Zonation’ software and Habitat Suitability Models to prioritise the most cost-effective actions for supporting aquatic biodiversity across Melbourne.

Our collaborative partners developed the shared vision and goals for each catchment. The targets and performance objectives adopted in the strategy come from the ‘sweet spot’ where local knowledge, expertise and community insights overlap with the directions coming from the in-depth science program.

Working collectively toward prioritised objectives and targets offers everyone a way to participate in enhancing their local environment and unlock the significant natural capital our waterways offer.

Last updated:
19 April 2021