MDBC Annual Report 2006–07 Home | Contents | User guide | Download PDF

Part 3: Delivery of high-quality advice to Council, and achievement of its endorsed priorities, through strengthened capacity of the Commission and the Commission Office

Strategy 3.5
Use Council priorities to drive communication, feedback and information delivery activities with stakeholders and communities

This strategy deals with media and public affairs associated with the work of the MDBC. It also increases external understanding and support through contributing to parliamentary inquiries and releasing major publications.

Media and public affairs

The drought and the Prime Minister’s announcement of the National Plan for Water Security significantly increased media interest in the work of the MDBC during 2006–07.

The Chief Executive and other members of the Executive conducted frequent media interviews that communicated clear and regular messages on the seriousness of the situation and its effect on communities, growers and industries. Broad coverage included key regional, metropolitan, national and international print and electronic media.

The MDBC introduced a range of products including drought update papers and e-letter items that were republished by media organisations.

The success of the Native Fish Strategy was also widely publicised during the year.

The MDBC’s website continued to be a major method of disseminating information about the MDBC. The number of hits, pages viewed and individual visitors all more than doubled during the year. An average of 40,000 visitors each month viewed an average of about 300,000 pages each month. The most sought-after areas of the site continued to be general information on the Murray River, the Weekly Report, media releases, the Basin Kids pages and the encyclopaedia pages on mining, agriculture and wildlife. As the drought deepened, more visitors downloaded the bimonthly drought updates.

The Basin Kids section of the MDBC website continued to grow in popularity, with external organisations requesting to link to it. Following the launch on World Environment Day (5 June 2006) of The River Basin Kids e-newspaper, this feature has had a successful 12 months, with a mention in The Age newspaper and excellent feedback from parents, teachers and students. The River is a monthly online newspaper that features articles rewritten for children from the MDBC e-letter, school news, fish and wildlife species of the month and other inclusions such as education puzzles, drawings and poetry.

The MDBC continued its support for a number of education-based programs to raise the awareness of sustainable use of Basin resources, including:

  • the Special Forever program in conjunction with the Primary English Teaching Association, uses Murray-Darling Basin environment issues as a vehicle for literacy and numeracy outcomes
  • the biannual MDBC international River Health conferences and regional conferences in lead-up years
  • input to the tertiary sector including partnering with the Australian National University to win a linkage grant with the Australian Research Council for a project, Engaging Visions, that will support artists’ engagements with communities to create imagery about the environment
  • establishing an MDBC PhD scholarship, and
  • support in conjunction with the University of New South Wales and NSW Parks and Wildlife, the pilot of an information portal website called WISE (Water Information System for the Environment).

The communication unit within MDBC is the central point of dissemination of information about the Basin. Throughout the review period, nearly 1,200 requests for information and publications were received and actioned.

In addition to this, the MDBC has a comprehensive image library. In the review period, more than 120 image requests were received.

Wendy & Carolyn Young scholarship.tif

Inaugural MDBC PhD scholarship awardee Carolyn Young receiving her award from
Chief Executive Wendy Craik.

(Photo: Viv Martin)

The Commission library continued to provide a point of contact for the public for MDBC products and information, a reference and interlibrary loan service and maintenance of a unique collection of technical resources of about 13,000 items. A further 434 resources were added during the reporting period. The library continues to work on the preservation of corporate archives including copying audiovisual material to DVD, not only ensuring preservation of corporate records but also facilitating access.

Information access, quality and delivery

A number of submissions and presentations to external initiatives promoted the Commission’s programs during the year:

  • MDBC attendance at, and submissions to, the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee Inquiry into Water Policy Initiatives
  • submissions to the Productivity Commission on the role of market mechanisms in rural water use and the environment
  • representation at the Australian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage 2006 conference in Darwin, and
  • presentations to various conferences, networks and workshops.

The research informed key MDBC strategies and initiatives. Research funded through the MDBC’s Strategic Investigations and Education (SI&E) program over the past 10 years aimed to develop sound scientific and technical knowledge to assist the Commission’s policy and strategy development. SI&E comprised four subprograms (Dryland, Irrigated Regions, Riverine Environments, and Basin Communities), and represented a total investment of $107 million.

The research is complete, as is the task of communicating the key outcomes to inform management responses and decision making. A suite of reports that summarise the investment in the entire SI&E program, the key research outcomes, links to existing strategies and initiatives, and information relating to the four SI&E subprograms was completed in 2006–07.

A list of material published by the MDBC during 2006–07 is included at Appendix F.