When Clare Hogue moved to Australia in 1996, she was shocked to be exposed to the lived experience of drought.
“I grew up in Canada, land of the Great Lakes. Water scarcity is not an issue where I come from,” she says.
Fast forward more than two decades, and Clare has played an important role in the development of a plan that aims to provide water security to the Lower Hunter region for the next 40 years.
As one of Hunter Water’s Senior Community Engagement Advisors, Clare has spent the bulk of the past two years working to understand the community’s values and preferences for the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan – a process she says was rewarding.
“Having broad community support for the draft plan during the public exhibition period certainly felt good,” she says.
Clare adds her diverse role allows her to work closely with colleagues across different Hunter Water business divisions, and provides a fascinating insight into what drives people to have the views they do.
“As an example, there’s a commonly held belief across society that there is community apprehension about the potential for Purified Recycled Water (PRW),” she says.
“However, all research we’ve conducted to date with our community, including surveys and focus groups, indicates our community is open to us considering that option.
“Ongoing community engagement and building a PRW demonstration plant is a medium-term action in our Lower Hunter Water Security Plan.”
Prior to joining Hunter Water, Clare worked as Head of Research Services at the Hunter Research Foundation for 15 years.
Her interest was primarily in health and social research, while she also completed a PhD in Medicine and Public Health.
Working in the water industry has been a shift in sector, but she says the provision of safe water and wastewater services is integral to the ongoing health and liveability of our region.
“Undertaking work that helps us gain meaningful insights from our community can only enhance and improve the decisions we make,” she says.
Apart from her work on the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan, Clare says another career highlight involved extensive research into the barriers young people face in transitioning from school to independent life.
In 2015, she led a team that trained young people to conduct face-to-face interviews, undertake basic survey design and analysis, and present results to stakeholder groups.
“As part of this process, we organised a forum conducted by, and with, young people,” Clare says.
“At the end, a mother of one of the young people we were working with came up to me and gave me a hug, saying that being involved in the process had changed her daughter’s life.
“The final outcomes from that work have led to changes in the ways some of our high schools work with their students.
“That work reinforced to me rigorous research that has meaning to our region really can effect positive change.”
Click here for more information about our Lower Hunter Water Security Plan.