A program to strengthen the connections between the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and regional communities began this month with the appointment of an officer hosted by the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA).
The newly appointed Regional Engagement Officer (REO), Sam Gitahi, works on water catchment planning in Victoria's north-east and is passionate about community based science that links the local community, landholders and local government.
Chief Executive of the MDBA, Phillip Glyde, said having Mr Gitahi on board provided a new avenue for local people to feed their experiences, concerns and aspirations back to the MDBA, and was an important step towards greater community understanding of the Basin Plan.
"Mr Gitahi is one of five REOs starting in the job this month. They are bringing with them impressive skills and experience, which are matched by the expertise of their host organisations," Mr Glyde said.
With a master's degree in environmental biology and a bachelor's degree in fisheries and aquatic ecology, Sam Gitahi will be working part-time with the MDBA while continuing as the catchment coordinator, a role that focuses on waterway health and management.
Jane Young, Executive Manager Leadership and Strategy at the North East CMA, welcomed the opportunity brought by the REO program to further build the CMA's relationship with the MDBA to benefit Victoria's north-east and the south-east NSW district.
"The CMA has a strong understanding of water issues in this region and together with our established networks we will be helping the MDBA to deliver the Basin Plan for the good of communities and the environment in this part of the basin," Ms Young said.
The REOs will get together monthly as part of the pilot program. The other organisations hosting a REO include the Wentworth Shire Council, Greater Shepparton City Council, Leeton Shire Council, SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board and Regional Development Australia Darling Downs and South West Queensland.