In May 2017, we partnered with the newDemocracy Foundation
and MosaicLab to convene a citizens’ jury to help us determine
Our philosophy
our price submission. The citizens’ jury was comprised of 35
More than 1.8 million Victorians rely on our essential water
customers recruited from across our diverse customer base via
and sanitation services. They use our services dozens if not
an independent process. They were given detailed context and
hundreds of times every day, so any drop in the quality or
briefings to ensure they were empowered to make informed and
reliability of our services will have a significant impact on their
balanced recommendations. This was a pioneering approach to
lives. For us, ‘exemplary’ is the minimum standard of delivery.
decision-making in the water industry.
Our approach
Customer engagement strategy
We are putting our customers at the centre of everything we
Our customer engagement strategy, developed in 2015-16,
do, focusing on constructive interactions with them, and strive
set out a framework for customer-centred decision making.
to resolve any faults or service interruptions quickly and simply.
This helped us empathise with customers, retain their trust
We involve our customers and communities in planning from
and improve performance.
a very early stage, and continually gauge their views and
A key part of the strategy was developing customer personas -
expectations as our operating environment changes, through
eight fictional people representing the diverse needs and values
population growth, climate change and drought.
of our customer base - from significant research conducted
Key initiatives - customer satisfaction
across our service area. They helped us to design solutions that
Customer metrics
better connect with our customers.
Independent research we commissioned in 2016-17
Consultation on our urban water strategy
indicated that:
We worked with Melbourne’s other metropolitan water utilities
overall customer satisfaction levels sat at 80% for residential
- through focus groups, online community forums, stakeholder
customers and 75% for business customers
workshops and a quantitative survey - to define and understand
the value customers place on water and water management,
perceptions of value for money remain steady - 63% for
as well as community expectations around the availability of
residential customers and 61% for businesses
Melbourne’s water supply in the future.
85% of residential and 84% of business customers were
Customer-centric digital business
satisfied or highly satisfied with their most recent interaction
with us
In 2016-17, we continued to develop our digital services to
ensure they were organised for and around our customers,
94% of customers who called our Customer Contact Centre
stakeholders and community:
said that we met or exceeded their expectations
our self-service web platform, Yarra Valley Online Water
90% of customers agreed that Yarra Valley Water provides
(YVOW) has processed more than 470,000 transactions since
a reliable water service
it went live in 2015, and as of June 2017, had reduced calls to
93% agreed that Yarra Valley Water provides great
our Customer Contact Centre by 27.8%
drinking water
we continued to explore the potential role of digital
technology in water metering
85% of residential customers and 84% of business customers
were confident that Yarra Valley Water would meet their
we launched Engage, our new Customer Contact Centre
needs now and in the future
interaction platform
we have a Net Promoter Score (NPS) for all customer
our easyACCESS self-service portal for solicitors, plumbers,
interactions of 36.7.
builders and developers has grown in popularity and
The citizens’ jury
functionality this year, with 39% of all applications now
done online.
In 2016-17 we significantly involved our customers in the
process of determining our price submission to the Essential
Services Commission (ESC) for the period from July 2018
to June 2023.
We held discussions with 6,000 customers and more than
70 stakeholders to gain insights into their values and attitudes.


Business customers
Water and sewer interruptions
Our largest business customers are assigned a dedicated
Our services are more prone to water main leaks and sewer
relationship manager. In 2016-17, research showed that
blockages than other areas of Victoria, because of proximity
100% of these customers were satisfied with their
to catchments, clay soils and a higher prevalence of trees
relationship manager.
that affect underground pipes. Over the last 15 years we have
steadily reduced the number of unplanned water interruptions
Key initiatives - service reliability
through pipe renewals and interventions such as water mains
Drinking water quality
pressure reduction. We recently updated our sewer renewals
program based on the correlation between sewer blockage
Melbourne’s drinking water quality is second to none, and
rates and rainfall and are planning to reintroduce a sewer
our priority is to keep it that way. Complaints about drinking
cleaning program as part of our price submission - this will
water quality increased slightly on the previous year, but
be vital to mitigate the impacts of climate change on
at 3.02 complaints per 1,000 customers at June 2017
our infrastructure.
remained well below the target of 4.3 per 1,000 customers.
We are continuing to focus on reducing complaints through
In 2016-17, $23.7 million was spent on renewing 60 kms of
our water mains cleaning program and operational
water mains and $12.6 million was spent on renewing 42 kms
management of the water supply system.
of sewer mains.
Water availability
Intelligent network strategy
In 2016-17 we completed our latest Urban Water Strategy
In 2016-17, we developed an Intelligent Network Strategy
(UWS), which outlines how we will ensure the availability
that maps out how we will acquire data from a variety of field
of our supply and the capacity in our sewerage networks over
sensors, turn the data into meaningful information, and then
the next 50 years. The UWS aims to support the development
use this knowledge to make (or potentially automate) better
of resilient and liveable communities, to meet the challenges
decisions for our customers. We will also be building our staff
of population growth, climate change and weather variability
capabilities to make the most of this new way of working.
while still catering for water-related urban amenity, to provide
the community with confidence in our long-term water and
sewerage provision and to support the Victorian Government’s
Water for Victoria plan.
Sewerage services
Sewerage services are a key part of our role. Our aim is to
provide exemplary sewerage services that protect public
health and work in harmony with the environment at lowest
community cost.
We will be working with the Melbourne water industry to
develop a long-term sewerage strategy - due for completion
in September 2018.


We made significant progress towards delivering our Diversity
and Inclusion Action Plan in 2016-17. This included appointing
a Diversity and Inclusion Manager role to improve our guidelines
Our philosophy
and support processes, monitor our progress towards targets
Over the last decade, Yarra Valley Water has focused on
and promote education and awareness.
developing a high-performance culture, high levels of staff
We achieved a significant increase in the number of women
engagement and effective workplace practices. This focus
shortlisted for positions in 2016-17 - 50.2% (2016 - 28%)
has directly contributed to improved staff satisfaction,
of candidates shortlisted for technical and leadership roles
reduced employee turnover and increased stakeholder and
are now women. In addition, changes to our job advertisements
customer satisfaction.
and careers website focused on increasing breadth of
As a direct result of this focus, our overall productivity has
potential candidates.
improved. We recognise how important a constructive and
All managers have also attended unconscious bias training
inclusive workplace culture is to the performance of our
run by the University of Melbourne.
business. We train our leaders to inspire and support their
staff, and have introduced policies that encourage a diverse
As of June 2017, the proportion of women in senior leadership
and balanced workforce - one that reflects the diversity of
positions at Yarra Valley Water is:
our customers.
directors - 50%
We are committed to further developing our achievement-
executive - 50%
oriented culture to create the best possible outcomes for
our customers and the community.
people managers - 39%
Our approach
Diversity working groups
Our 2020 Strategy commits us to a culture that fosters
We have established six diversity working groups focused on
collaboration, candour and confidence; leaders who create
the following areas:
the environment to achieve breakthrough performance;
gender diversity
and highly capable and engaged people who achieve
extraordinary outcomes.
cultural diversity
Key initiatives - diversity and inclusion
disability and access
We recognise that a diverse workforce is fundamental to
flexible working, life stages and generational diversity
extraordinary performance. The different attributes, life
LGBTI diversity
experiences, skills and capabilities that our staff bring to the
business enable a huge variety of thinking and have a positive
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation.
impact on everything we do.
Employment conditions
In 2015, Yarra Valley Water’s Board approved our Diversity
We have updated our employment conditions to better
Strategy - a roadmap of the programs, practices, measures
recognise the needs of our diverse workforce. Improvements
and targets we need to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
include paid family violence leave and equal access to parental
We will be developing the next phase of the strategy over
leave, regardless of gender.
Diversity partnerships
The priorities for the first year of the Diversity Strategy were:
We recently joined Diversity Council Australia, an independent,
improving gender balance in leadership and technical roles
not-for-profit workplace diversity advisory service for Australian
training for managers
businesses. We are also a member of the Australian Network on
Disability, offering us insights into supporting our staff members
a review of people policies, processes and practices.
with disabilities.


Supporting staff members experiencing family violence
In addition to improving our customer support systems around
family violence, we have introduced initiatives to support staff
members who may be experiencing family violence themselves.
These include training all managers to recognise the signs
of family violence and to provide effective support to people
who may be experiencing family violence. The training was
delivered by experts experienced in dealing with both victims
and perpetrators.
We will be providing additional training to all staff members,
ensuring that every Yarra Valley Water employee understands
the issues around family violence.
We have also introduced paid family violence leave for
all employees.


Key initiatives - leadership and capability
Key initiatives - culture and engagement
Organisational structure
We use several internationally recognised benchmarking
tools to track and improve our strategies around culture
In 2016-17, we realigned our organisational structure.
and engagement.
This was driven by the fine-tuning of our 2020 strategy and
to ensure we are best placed to support our strategic priorities
Organisational Culture Inventory
and respond to the challenges and opportunities within our
Human Synergistics’ Organisational Culture Inventory (OCI)
operating environment.
uses a series of all-staff surveys to determine our organisation’s
Management impact
prevalent behavioural styles. These styles are grouped
into three clusters: constructive, aggressive defensive, and
Yarra Valley Water uses Human Synergistics’ Life Styles
passive defensive.
Inventory (LSI) surveys for 360-degree feedback. This tool
measures managers’ overall effectiveness and the ways their
Constructive styles emphasise the achievement of realistic
managerial approaches affect the behaviours and performance
stretch targets, high levels of personal satisfaction and an open,
of those around them. They help us align our management
honest and collaborative approach.
and leadership practices with the organisation’s overall vision,
The results of our most recent OCI study, conducted in 2015,
strategy and values, and are an important part of supporting
indicate that we have an exceptional workplace culture, and
our managers’ ongoing development.
set new Australian records for role clarity, customer focus and
Innovation Collective
employee satisfaction. The next OCI survey will be conducted
in 2018.
The Innovation Collective was set up to embed innovation in the
way we work. Made up of employees from across the business,
Engagement and collaboration
and supported by advisers who are accountable for innovation,
The Aon Hewitt Best Engagement Survey measures staff
it provides tools and support to help Yarra Valley Water staff
engagement levels and the perceived effectiveness of
explore and develop new ideas.
workplace practices. It gives us key information to inform
The Hub innovation portal
our HR strategies and improvement plans.
The Hub is an online forum that allows anyone to contribute
Results of our recent 2017 Aon Hewitt Engagement Survey
ideas. Staff members can vote for the best ideas, collaborate
showed that we have very high levels of employee engagement.
on ideas by adding comments, and tag other users to get
Our score of 83%, was a 3% increase from the previous year.
involved. An open-ended ‘ideas box’ invites suggestions for
solutions to specific challenges. Hub challenges to date have
addressed customer service, liveability and safety.
Business process innovation
Responding to the ever-increasing rate of technological change,
we incorporated the Agile methodology into our delivery
approach for IT projects over the last 18 months.
Agile uses iterative development and collaboration between
IT and business stakeholders to evolve requirements and
solutions throughout the lifetime of a project. This lets us stay
flexible to changing business needs and embrace the latest
Enterprise Agreement
technological solutions.
We renegotiated our Enterprise Agreement with staff over the
In 2016-17 we began using the Scaled Agile Framework for
2016-17 financial year. The negotiations were respectful and
Enterprises (SAFe) for business planning. SAFe is a collaborative
constructive, and employees indicated they had full confidence
approach that applies Agile principles (commonly used in IT
in the process.
projects) at an organisational scale.
Our new Enterprise Agreement was put to a staff vote
after government approval was received, and 97% of staff
voted ‘yes’. The agreement has now been finalised by the
Fair Work Commission.


Key initiatives - productivity and improvement
Online efficiencies
Our philosophy
Our online customer self-service platform, Yarra Valley Online
Financial sustainability is a key priority for Yarra Valley Water.
Water (YVOW), has reduced interactions with the Customer
Our customers do not get to choose their water supplier -
Contact Centre by 22.7%, and we expect to see this reach 40%
we therefore have an important responsibility to deliver
by the end of the 2017-18 financial year, significantly reducing
our services as efficiently as possible. Our commitment
the cost of handling everyday customer transactions.
to thriving communities (see page 17) compels us to strive
to minimise the pressure that water bills place on household
State Purchasing Contract - banking services
and business budgets.
In 2016-17, we transitioned our banking services to the Whole
Like all businesses, we must manage our finances effectively
of Government State Purchasing Contract (SPC). The SPC
and generate a return for our owner - the Victorian Government.
covers all Victorian Government agencies, including eleven
We pay an annual dividend and tax equivalent payments to the
water businesses, and offers aggregated buying power.
government, which then uses these funds to deliver benefits to
The decision to join the SPC is in line with the Government’s
all Victorians.
joint procurement principles and will deliver savings over the
We are always looking for ways to maximise efficiency by
next five years.
improving business processes, eliminating waste, better
Key initiatives - fair and reasonable prices
managing risks and embracing new thinking and technologies
to keep pace with the needs and expectations of our customers,
Alternative revenue streams
community and stakeholders. We are focused on delivering
We are embracing alternative revenue streams so we can
better community outcomes for the same cost, or the same
sustain (or improve) our service levels without increasing costs
outcomes at a lower cost, and collaborating with our partners
for customers. Our new waste-to-energy plant in Wollert is the
inside and outside the water industry to adapt, trial and
perfect example of a shared value project. The revenue from
implement new innovations.
the plant helps us keep pressure off prices, while the reduction
Most of our investment decisions are long term and must
in landfill waste benefits the broader community.
optimise community value and intergenerational equity over
Operating expenditure budget
decades, not just months or years. We consider the impact on
We experienced some operating expenditure pressures,
customer prices for all our capital investment projects, and
primarily due to volume and cost pressures related to the
investigate innovative solutions to meet community needs
delivery of civil, mechanical and electrical maintenance
while avoiding future capital costs.
services. Climatic conditions contributed to an increase in our
Sustaining and improving service levels without increasing
emergency maintenance volumes for the 2016-17 financial
costs for customers is a constant challenge for any business,
year of 9% compared with 2015-16.
but our focus on optimising operating expenditure and
We remain focused on effectively and efficiently managing both
identifying additional revenue streams means we can continue
our operating and capital expenditure budgets. We are working
providing high-quality services to our customers and community
closely with the maintenance contractor to reduce costs and
without increasing prices.
improve service delivery.
Our approach
Our 2020 Strategy commits us to the following outcomes:
we prioritise our efforts, improve productivity and reduce
waste every year
our finances are in great shape and customers believe our
prices are fair and reasonable
we make investment decisions that maximise community
value and intergenerational equity.


Integrated profit and loss accounting
Over the last decade we moved beyond merely looking at
Our philosophy
the financial impacts of decisions to include environmental
The safety and wellbeing of our staff is paramount at Yarra
externalities such as water extraction, greenhouse gas
Valley Water. We’re creating a culture of safety to reduce the
emissions and nutrient discharges. We extended this ‘life cycle
risk of workplace accidents and delivering a range of initiatives
analysis’ beyond the boundaries of our business to determine
to support employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.
which projects delivered the best community outcomes.
The methodology behind this ‘Community Cost Model’ has
This goes beyond simply preventing accidents - we look for
been externally validated. We have recently expanded this way
ways to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of all staff.
of thinking to include social and human capital alongside the
We give our people the tools and capability to enhance their
existing concepts of natural and financial capital.
health and wellbeing, both at work and in other areas of their
life, so that the benefits of our health and safety culture extend
During 2016-17, we worked with international value creation
beyond the workplace and into the broader community.
experts TruCost, as well as Pavan Sukhdev, UN Environment
Program (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador for the Green Economy,
Our approach
to develop our first integrated profit and loss (IP&L) account.
Workplace safety and wellbeing is a fundamental element of
The IP&L quantifies our annual environmental, social, employee
business performance. To successfully fulfil this 2020 Strategy
and financial costs and benefits in monetary terms.
commitment, we must deliver the following outcomes:
Our inaugural IP&L statement showed that in 2014-15, we
safety and wellbeing exists as each person’s responsibility
created a net benefit of $72.4 million for the environment,
we make our workplaces safe
society and our employees, in addition to making a $374 million
contribution to the Australian economy.
we carry out our work without harming ourselves
or others.
We are using the IP&L to improve our strategic decision
making so we can deliver optimal long-term outcomes for
Key initiatives
our customers and community. Our next step will be using
In 2016-17 we have continued to:
the framework to determine how we can deliver the greatest
health and wellbeing outcomes for current and
work on our safety leadership and due diligence framework
future generations.
focus on improving the organisation’s safety management
system by developing frameworks for working at height
and asbestos management
review the information provided to contractors to enable
them to work safely, as well as our supervision framework,
to determine the level of management for contractors
formalise a wellbeing program for our people, which places
importance on holistic wellbeing including body, emotional
health and lifestyle.
Measuring our safety performance
We measure our safety performance using the Significant
Injury Frequency Rate (SIFR) - SIFR is the number of significant
injuries (lost time injuries and medical treatment injuries) per
million hours worked - and the number of lost time injuries (LTI)
per year. We benchmark our safety culture every second year
using the Global Safety Index (GSI) Safety Culture Index (SCI).


Year in review
The number of reported hazards or incidents for the year
per 100 full-time equivalent staff members
The strong results in our GSI-SCI survey 2016 have been
reflected by significant improvement in our SIFR and LTI
Per 100 full-time equivalent
performance in 2015-16 and continued improved performance
staff members
in 2016-17.
Our injury SIFR target was to be equal to or less than two at
30 June 2017. We achieved the target with a SIFR of 0.9.
The graph below shows the injury frequency rate for
Yarra Valley Water has reduced from 4.9 in July 2013 to 0.9
as at 30 June 2017.
Significant Injury Frequency Rate (YVW)
The number of ‘lost time’ standard claims for the year per
100 full-time equivalent staff members
Per 100 full-time equivalent
staff members
The average cost per claim for the year
Our target for lost time injuries was zero for 2016-17, and this
Average cost per
claims costs
target was achieved.
claim for the year
As detailed in the following tables, our positive safety
performance has been reinforced through the increase
in hazards reported and the reduction in the number of
incidents reported, a reduction of standard lost time workers’
compensation claims and the lowest average claims costs since
In 2016-17 we had no standard claims with liability accepted
for time lost. Our workers’ compensation performance rate for
2016-17 (as calculated by WorkSafe) is 22.54% better than in
the water industry as a whole.


Health and wellbeing program
and that we redefine the possibilities in sustainable water
and sanitation services.
Most people spend a significant proportion of their lives at
work, so their experiences in the workplace play an important
Our environmental strategies are focused on the three areas
part in overall wellbeing. Recognising this, we launched a
where we have the biggest impact and the most opportunities
revitalised Wellbeing Program in 2016. The first part of this
to make a difference:
program focused on emotional wellbeing. Staff learned about
greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
accepting and normalising mental health concerns, how mental
health concerns are seen in the workplace and strategies for
nutrient discharges
maintaining a healthy mindset.
the quantity of water that we take from the environment.
Managers received additional training (facilitated by SANE
Key initiatives - greenhouse gas emissions and
Australia), which covered mental health stigma and tools
climate change
and techniques for having conversations about mental health
Greenhouse gas neutrality
in the workplace.
Yarra Valley Water is a greenhouse gas-neutral organisation.
Staff with wellbeing-related responsibilities (such as staff
We have achieved this through energy efficiency initiatives,
support officers, first-aid officers and safety and wellbeing
offsets generated by our showerhead exchange program, and
advocates) are currently completing mental health first aid
through the purchase of additional accredited offsets. We are
training to support any staff with concerns arising from
helping Victoria meet its renewable energy targets of 25% by
the program.
2020 and 40% by 2025.
In 2016-17, we became an energy generator. We have ambitious
plans to extend our generation capacity in the future using a
range of technologies including biogas (see ReWaste below),
Our philosophy
solar panels and mini hydro generators. The business case for
We take a restorative approach to the environment, looking
doing this is strong, due to increases in energy prices and the
for ways we can improve, not just maintain, our natural
market value of renewable energy and other carbon abatement
ecosystems. Our sector is intrinsically linked to the environment
certificates these projects create.
- all the water we supply is harvested from the environment,
This strategy supports the delivery of the Water for Victoria
and all the wastewater we discharge goes back into it.
emission reduction targets, which require metropolitan
Our society is operating well outside the carrying capacity
water corporations to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions
of nature, and we have already exceeded the ‘safe’ planetary
by 2030.
boundaries in several areas, including climate change,
Re-waste - waste to energy facility
nutrient discharge, freshwater use, biodiversity and land-use.
(Rockstrom J., 2009).
ReWaste - our state-of-the-art waste-to-energy facility -
commenced operations in March 2017. At full capacity, the
Yarra Valley Water now pursues an environmentally restorative
facility will process 33,000 tonnes of organic waste every year,
approach - doing “more good” rather than simply “less harm”.
converting garbage otherwise destined for landfill into clean,
This approach is essential to mitigate the worst effects of
green bioenergy. The plant will produce 1 MWh of electricity,
climate change, to maintain (or enhance) Melbourne’s world-
which is enough to power our largest treatment plants and
renowned liveability, and to contribute to the health and
equivalent to more than 20% of our overall energy use.
wellbeing of Melbourne’s communities - after all, a healthy
environment is essential for a healthy population. We hope
In November 2016, we released a request for proposal to build
that this approach will not only preserve but also improve
a second, larger, waste-to-energy facility. Subject to a viable
Melbourne’s natural and urban environments, creating a green
business case, the second facility is forecast to be completed
and highly liveable city where communities and economies
by 2020.
can thrive.
Climate change adaptation
Our approach
Melbourne is already feeling the impacts of climate change,
Our 2020 Strategy commits us to ensuring that our
and the effects are going to increase over the next few decades.
environmental impact never exceeds the carrying capacity
The impacts of climate change on our city are likely to include
of nature; that we pursue a restorative approach where the
more frequent and severe heatwaves, larger and more
planetary or local carrying capacity of nature is exceeded;
unpredictable bushfires, increased frequency of drought,
and more intense rainfall and flooding.


We continually monitor the current and potential future impacts
Based on the success of the Merri Creek pilot, we have
that climate change could have on our water resources, water
commenced a similarly comprehensive study of the Yarra
availability and performance of our sewerage infrastructure,
River. The study aims to measure the impacts of the multiple
assisted by Department of Environment, Land, Water and
sewage treatment plants and community sewerage areas that
Planning (DELWP) guidelines for assessing the impact of
impact the river. We have also proposed monitoring four other
climate change on water supplies in Victoria. These guidelines
waterways impacted by our activities to identify additional
are part of our latest Urban Water Strategy and will be a part
outcomes-based approaches.
of the Melbourne Sewerage Strategy.
Trade waste management
Key initiatives - healthy waterways
We will continue our highly successful collaboration with
Nutrient discharge limits
councils to help local food businesses improve their trade
waste management. This reduces sewer spills due to fat
Yarra Valley Water has a self-imposed nitrogen discharge limit
blockages, minimising the risks to our waterways.
of 87 tonnes per year, to protect and enhance our waterways.
To ensure we do not exceed this limit, we have upgraded our
Our existing partnership with Maroondah City Council has
sewage treatment processes to reduce nutrient discharges and
environmental health officers documenting trade waste
maximised water recycling. Nutrient discharges are not the only
management in their inspection reports and referring any
pressure we place on our waterways. As part of our restorative
concerns to us for follow-up. The council also includes our
strategy, we will be broadening our focus to manage our
application form in the starter kits it gives to new businesses.
impacts on the overall health of the waterways we
Key initiatives - maintaining environmental flows
discharge to.
Efficient water use
Community sewerage
Our customers use significantly less water per person than
During 2016-17 we completed the North Warrandyte sewerage
they did in the years before the Millennium Drought, with
system, which provides infrastructure enabling sewerage
2016-17 consumption tracking at 160 litres per day. We remain
services to 975 houses. Customers are now connecting to the
focused on efficient water use behaviours to ensure we make
new system.
the most of our state’s precious water supplies. We will continue
One of the key projects in this program is the Donvale Sewerage
to promote the efficient and sensible use of water through:
Project, which will provide sewerage services to 1,107 houses.
water efficiency programs such as Target 155, a voluntary
Completion is expected in June 2018.
program that encourages Melbourne households to use
An outcomes-based approach to waterways investment
a maximum of 155 litres of water per person per day
We have partnered with Melbourne Water, DELWP and local
our schools’ education program, which integrates water
councils to develop an outcomes-based approach for waterway
into the curriculum for schools and early learning centres
investment. This involves identifying the outcomes we want
encouraging schools to participate in the Schools Water
to achieve (such as waterway health, urban amenity, and
Efficiency Program (SWEP), a Victorian Government
biodiversity), and then determining how we can deliver these
initiative that enables schools to track and manage their
at the lowest possible cost to the community.
water consumption
We recently tested this approach with a pilot study focused
assisting businesses and local councils to become more
on Merri Creek. Prior to the study, we had already been working
water efficient and to explore alternative water sources,
with Melbourne Water and local councils on a $25 million
including through a benchmarking website for businesses
project to prevent wastewater overflows into the creek.
Our pilot study found that the main threats to the waterway’s
engaging customers on water efficiency through account
health come from polluted urban runoff rather than
inserts, social media, local media and website content,
wastewater overflows. Therefore, the currently planned
including the Target 155 program
expenditure for wastewater containment would not deliver
encouraging the use of water efficient appliances, products
the desired outcomes.
and services
Following this study, we developed an action plan to target the
supporting our vulnerable customers with optional water
key threats to the Merri Creek, delivering agreed outcomes to
audits and usage management tools.
the waterway at a lower community cost. The action plan was
finalised during 2016-17.




One of the ways Yarra Valley Water supports vulnerable
customers is through WaterCare, an initiative promoting the
Our philosophy
programs, pathways and services that helps customers manage
We have a role to play in enhancing public health and wellbeing
their water and sewerage bills. WaterCare was designed to
that goes beyond simply providing clean drinking water. While
complement our existing approach to customers experiencing
water and sanitation are essential for survival, our remit is to
financial hardship, with a key focus on early identification and
help our community thrive over the long term.
proactive prevention.
We reflect the needs of Melbourne’s diverse communities and
Vulnerability roundtable
involve them in major decisions, including consulting Traditional
In October 2016, Yarra Valley Water hosted 130 representatives
Owners. We value the many contributions that Aboriginal and
from business, government agencies and the community
Torres Strait Islanders make to our community, and recognise
sector for the first Vulnerability Roundtable - a cross-sectoral
that their cultural values and connection to country can
workshop to tackle hardship and vulnerability. Participants
make us a better water utility. We make sure our services
began designing solutions to support people experiencing
are inclusive and look after the most vulnerable members of
vulnerability, then committed resources to make them happen.
our society, reducing the stigma around financial hardship
while working with others to tackle the root causes of
One of the initiatives to come out of the Vulnerability
socioeconomic disadvantage.
Roundtable is the Thriving Communities Partnership,
a voluntary, collaborative initiative of Australian organisations
We take an integrated approach to water management to
from all sectors committed to taking action to support access
ensure the best outcomes for those we serve in the community,
to essential services such as water, energy, telecommunications
sharing our knowledge with other water corporations to improve
and banking. Yarra Valley Water will initially host the
community wellbeing across Australia and the world. We help
partnership, but we expect to transition it to an independent
make Melbourne the world’s most liveable city, supporting local
entity in future.
sport and recreation, and contributing to clean, green urban
environments that encourage connection.
ESC Customer Service Code
Our approach
Yarra Valley Water has worked with the Essential Services
Our 2020 Strategy commits us to:
Commission on changes to the Customer Service Code that
require Victorian water businesses to implement family violence
enhancing water industry performance
policies. The Code changes are in response to the Royal
partnering with our diverse community
Commission into Family Violence, which identified excessive
control over utility bills as a common form of economic abuse.
contributing to healthier communities
We have upgraded our customer support systems to include
and improved local amenity.
a ‘safety flag’ that consultants can use to identify people at risk.
Key initiatives - a fair go for everyone
Our customer support team has received extensive training
in helping customers who may be affected by family violence.
Supporting vulnerable customers
All managers have been trained in responding when they
Yarra Valley Water is improving the support we offer financially
suspect an employee may be experiencing, or discloses that
vulnerable customers by concentrating on early identification
they are experiencing, family violence.
and intervention for those experiencing difficulties. We are
increasing our awareness of groups at a higher risk of
vulnerability and offering tailored support for these people.


In 2016-17, we completed construction of the $20 million
Supporting culturally and linguistically diverse communities
Wallan Sewage Treatment Plant, which collects sewage
The culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) segment of
from townships of Wallan, Wallan East, Beveridge, Wandong
our customer base is growing. Statistically, customers born
and Heathcote Junction. This will allow recycled water to be
overseas are at increased risk of financial vulnerability,
supplied to new developments in Wallan and Beveridge in 2017-18.
while language barriers and cultural factors mean they often
do not receive the correct service for their needs.
Sewage will also be treated at a future sewage and recycled
water treatment plant at Kalkallo. Class A recycled water
To better support our CALD customers, Yarra Valley Water
produced at the plant will be returned to new developments in
employs consultants who speak our most common non-English
the area. Excess sewage will be transferred to the metropolitan
languages: Arabic, Cantonese, Greek and Mandarin. Customers
system for treatment. The existing treatment plants at
who need to speak to us in another language can do so via
Craigieburn, Aurora and Wallan will continue supplying
a third-party phone translation service.
recycled water.
Choose Tap community partnerships
Other key infrastructure includes:
Our Choose Tap program promotes the health, environmental
Amaroo Main Sewer - this new 18 km sewer main is the
and hip-pocket benefits of tap water over bottled water and
first stage of a five-year, $400 million investment in water
other beverages. We have shared this successful program with
and sewerage infrastructure for the Northern Growth
other Australian and international water businesses, with
Corridor. Work commenced in June 2015 and finished in
19 Australian water utilities now members of the ‘Choose Tap
June 2017, six months ahead of schedule with a cost saving
Coalition’. In addition, more than 35 partners and supporters
of approximately $30 million
are currently promoting tap water using the Choose Tap brand
and messaging.
Craigieburn Sewage Transfer Hub - located at our existing
Craigieburn plant, the transfer hub provides a large sewage
We recently expanded our sporting partnerships to include
storage facility that can be expanded as development
the VFL Women’s and Eastern Region Girls’ football leagues,
increases. Construction commenced early in 2017 and is
bringing the Choose Tap message to a larger and more diverse
expected to finish in late 2018
audience. This year we will be rolling out a new addition to
the Choose Tap program - Library Storytime. Aimed at children
Kalkallo Creek Main Sewer - this branch sewer will connect
aged five and younger, Library Storytime gives libraries
new development to the Amaroo Main Sewer and allow us
the chance to incorporate fun and interactive Choose Tap
to decommission the temporary pumping station servicing
messaging into their existing weekly storytime program.
the initial development. Work commenced in April 2017 and
is expected to finish in late 2018.
Key initiatives - places for people
La Trobe National Employment Cluster
Servicing Melbourne’s growing North
The La Trobe National Employment Cluster, located north
We are investing in infrastructure to service the increasing
east of Melbourne’s central business district, is an area of
population of the Northern Growth Corridor, between
significant commercial and industrial growth. Housing is set
Craigieburn and Wallan, which will support 100,000 new
to expand significantly in the area, with 40,000 new dwellings
residential homes and up to 1,050 hectares of new employment
expected by 2050. The Victorian Planning Authority has adopted
land in the coming decades. To meet the significant population
an integrated planning approach to developing the cluster,
growth in this area, we have worked with stakeholders
with preliminary work including Yarra Valley Water as well as
to develop an Integrated Servicing Strategy that will be
Melbourne Water, DELWP, the two local councils and the area’s
implemented over the next 25 years.
major employers.


Key initiatives - partnerships and participation
Strategic Human Resources - in 2016, we commenced
shared services partnerships with Lower Murray Water,
In 2016-17, we worked on the following major initiatives:
Southern Rural Water and Gippsland Water. Our Executive
Reconciliation - Yarra Valley Water’s first Reconciliation
Manager, External Services: Culture and Capability, Anne
Action Plan (RAP) was launched in April 2017. Endorsed by
Farquhar, has been providing these utilities with strategic
Reconciliation Australia, it outlines how we will make
human resources services and support around workforce
a meaningful contribution to reconciliation and Aboriginal
capability, diversity, culture and engagement, workplace
and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the next three years
planning and executive development and recruitment.
under the themes of respect, relationships and opportunities.
Community sewerage - we are conducting a community
Engaging traditional owners - we have been working with
trial to upgrade septic tanks in Park Orchards. The trial is
Melbourne’s other metropolitan water corporation to develop
currently in progress and will be ongoing for some time. We
a joint approach to including Traditional Owners in the design,
are also consulting with the community on servicing options
planning and management of water resources.
in the Monbulk community. In both cases we effectively
Integrated water management (IWM) - we are developing
consulted with the communities and stakeholders. For
strategic partnerships with local councils to ensure an
example, the Environmental Protection Authority, local
integrated approach to urban and water planning. DELWP
councils and DELWP.
- sponsored IWM forums will prioritise opportunities for
partnering to deliver IWM solutions, using an opportunity/risk-
based approach. A new senior management position will help
us to develop new partnering capabilities.