Interchanging Ideas

75 Years of Water Engineers and Operators, Conferences in Victoria

The following was presented at the launch of Interchanging Ideas on Tuesday 4th September 2012 by Mr David Sheehan, Team Leader – Water Regulation, Water Program, Health Protection Branch, Department of Health Victoria

A little shy of 74 years ago, on 30 September 1938, 37 sewerage engineers and operators met in the Boardroom of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.  The meeting was convened on the initiative of the Sanitary Engineer of the then Commission of Public Health, Mr E A Hepburn, with the purpose of bringing to together those: “concerned with the design and control of sewerage and sewage treatment works, and of treatment works operators.”  Little did they know that this would end up being the first Victorian Water Industry Engineers and Operators Conference.

As the musician Paul Kelly so elegantly sings, “from little things, big things grow”.  What started as a meeting of 37 interested individuals in 1938, has now grown into three annual two-day state conferences, each attracting hundreds of delegates, sold-out associated trade shows, national and international speakers, and a well-deserved reputation for being the premier conference for operational staff in Australia.

The predecessor organisations of the Department of Health were the convenors of the conference between 1938 and 1978.  It is fair to say that the issues discussed at these conferences remain as relevant today to the health and wellbeing of Victorian communities, as was the case in 1938, and are of ongoing interest to the Department.

I would like to congratulate the various convening agencies who have, over the past 74 years, helped develop and sustain the Victorian Water Industry Engineers and Operators Conference.  I would also like to congratulate Craig, George and the rest of the contributors for producing such a wonderful record of the Conference’s history, Interchanging Ideas, and I would commend you all to have a look through the document, as it is a fascinating read.

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