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Melbourne Water is trialling part-time operator arrangements for backfill positions and short term contracts in its Water Operations arm, aiming to increase diversity and staff retention.

Melbourne Water said Water Operations is a vital component of its essential work in helping ensure the community has access to world class drinking water.

Responsibilities include monitoring water treatment and quality, and carrying out inspections of dams and treatment plants. The work continues 24/7, often out in the field – and while Melbourne Water said that isn’t changing – the way the Operations team is managing its work load is. 

The trial falls under the utility’s New Ways of Working pledge (where it’s testing and examining new approaches to work arrangements on site and remotely), and is proving to be successful for both Melbourne Water and its employees. 

Team Leader Infrastructure Operations, Nick Stuart, said, “Melbourne Water already has a strong foundation of flexible work arrangements – this move is building on that. 

“The Water Operations roster is 24/7 and has been geared to full time positions. 

“We’ve gone to market actively advertising for part-time roles to share shifts and hours across the week and have been impressed by the talent we’ve attracted and how well the model is working.”

Li Lau is one of the new Water Operations team working part time and based at the Winneke Water Treatment Plant. She has years of experience in a similar role in Western Australia, then moved to Melbourne and has been raising a young family. 

“When I read the job description, it emphasised both work-life balance and that parents were encouraged to apply,” Ms Lau said. 

“I jumped at the chance to return to work in a part time capacity in a job and sector I am passionate about. The team is very supportive and I am loving the work.”

For Mr Stuart it’s a win-win for the wider business and the water operations team.  

“By actively promoting work/life balance and making concrete changes to how we configure the team across shifts we will attract a wider pool of talent and more diversity,” Mr Stuart said.

“That’s always a good outcome. Field workers don’t often get the work from home benefits – they’re in the field – this commitment to part time options and sharing the load is allowing people to work flexibly and will help the well-being and retention of our staff. 

“We want to grow this model and run with it.” 

“Returning to work in this role is a dream,” Ms Lau said. 

“I enjoy being out in the field, the responsibility that comes with the job and the team I’m working with. My work life balance is a really good one.” 

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