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Yarra Valley Water’s Nina Braid wins Water Professional of the Year

Yarra Valley Water Aboriginal Partnerships Manager Nina Braid has been named 2022 Water Professional of the Year by the Australian Water Association (AWA).

The awards, which were held at Melbourne Town Hall, celebrated the outstanding contribution individuals have made over the last five years to the water industry.

Ms Braid was recognised for “leading and transforming how the water industry works with Traditional Custodians.”

The judges said: “Nina is a relationship builder, influencer, enabler and change-maker. Her impact continues to ripple through Yarra Valley Water and beyond, building respect, trust, curiosity, learning, confidence, unity and goodwill.

As manager of Aboriginal Partnerships at Yarra Valley Water, Ms Braid has helped lead the company’s work in reconciliation since joining in 2018.

During this time, she has continued to challenge industry norms with actions like “reverse marketing” for Aboriginal job seekers, campaigning on sorry business leave and cultural leave and reshaping how the water sector works with Traditional Owners.

Ms Braid said she was humbled and honoured to receive such a prestigious accolade.

“I am truly humbled to receive this award - a special thanks to my team and colleagues for the nomination,” Ms Braid said. “These awards are important because they acknowledge the efforts of both individuals and teams who inspire positive change towards a sustainable water future.”

Nina is an excellent leader who contributes to the development of their industry. She strives to bring the whole water sector up, and work more effectively with First Nations customers, companies and communities.

“Building and nurturing our relationship with Traditional Owners on the land our businesses operate on, establishes a foundation of trust and collaboration,” she said. “By working together and leveraging our collective knowledge and resources, we can facilitate greater change.”

The coveted award from the AWA provides a perfect addition to winning the Eastern Metropolitan Region NAIDOC Caring for Country award in 2021.

Managing Director Pat McCafferty said Nina has been instrumental in advancing Yarra Valley Water’s cultural learning journey.

“Nina is acknowledged as a trusted advisor on First Nations issues who has transformed the way that we think about our obligations to Traditional Custodians to care for Country,” he said. “She leads through straight-talking, her ability to engage with people at all levels and her core belief in making communities better.”

Nina is a thought leader who has spent nearly 20 years working with communities for conservation and environmental purposes.  She is a board member for Trust for Nature, one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations.

“Nina’s commitment to lead the water industry and other sectors is enabling us to grow our knowledge and provide meaningful impact towards the next stage of our reconciliation journey,” Mr McCafferty said.

The winners will represent the state in the national Australian Water Awards, which will be presented at the Ozwater conference in Sydney next year.

For a full list of VIC Water Awards finalists and winners, head to the AWA website.