Change of leadership for Perth’s Water Sensitive Transition Network

May 21, 2024

Perth’s Water Sensitive Transition Network (WSTN) is an informal network of cross-organisational and cross-sectoral champions with a shared vision that is driving on-ground change. Established in 2015, the WSTN evolved from a research project led by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities to develop a shared vision for Greater Perth’s water sensitive future. While the network is self-organising and informal, it is endorsed by key government agencies and organisations in Perth.

The WSTN’s objective is to create a city that manages water in the urban landscape in ways that produce healthy environments and great places to live, now and in the future. It does this by:

  • influencing policy and governance
  • fostering more effective community engagement and communications
  • coordinating technical capacity building and partnerships
  • conducting further research.

Recently, the WSTN underwent a change in leadership, with inaugural Chair – John Savell from the Department of Communities – and Deputy Chair – Giles Pickard from the City of Canning – stepping down. We would like to thank John and Giles for their leadership, inspiration and sustained commitment.

We’d also like to congratulate the new Chair – Emily Briggs (Deputy Director General, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation) – and Deputy Chair – Shelley Shepherd (Director, Urbaqua) on their appointments.


The WSTN has and continues to achieve much:

  • It is a key stakeholder in the development of the Waterwise Perth Action Plan, a Cabinet-endorsed commitment to Perth becoming a waterwise (or water sensitive) city. The WSTN is currently developing the third iteration of the Plan.
  • WSTN members have been instrumental in developing the relationships and building the trust necessary to deliver a range of projects. For example, WSCA is working with the network on valuing green–blue infrastructure in the Perth and Peel region.
  • Examples of other projects include the Wharf Street Basin Next Generation Community Park and the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct.
  • Recognising the research gap on Indigenous water values, the network members lobbied for financial support from their respective organisations, raising sufficient funds to begin the Nyoongar water values project.

And its contribution and achievements have been recognised nationally and internationally. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and Water Corporation (on behalf of Waterwise Partners) received the Organisational Excellence Award at the 2024 Australian Water Awards for the Waterwise Perth Action Plan 2019, a successful example of whole-of-government action to tackle the challenge of a growing city in a changing climate. The WSTN is a key stakeholder group and an action within the plan. The network also received the Bronze Project Innovation Award at the 2022 IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Copenhagen. This award recognises innovations in governance and institutional transitions and the role this plays in supporting the circular and digital water economies.