Kim Heynen

Kim Heynen

Kim is a Principal Project Officer, Natural Resources from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

Driving Behavioural Change To Encourage Water Compliance

Queensland’s data about its rural water users shows that there’s a higher incidence of unintentional non-compliance than intentional non-compliance—essentially, most people don’t mean to break the rules, it just happens.

Compliance is a serious business, and water use and compliance has become a hot topic across most states and territories over the last few years. It’s critical that government takes action on intentional non-compliance and develops new ways to deal with unintentional non-compliance to reverse that trend.

In 2018, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy commissioned a research project to help it better understand why water users don’t always comply and what it can do to help them improve their compliance.

What resulted were some obvious reasons and a few surprising ones, along with some simple steps the department could take to make a big difference.

The project, undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology, reviewed literature and worked with a sample group of 25 water stakeholders to understand the barriers and motivation for rural water users to manage their water take so they comply with state legislation.

It found the barriers to complying were often external and made being compliant a burden, including unfair or inconsistent pricing or rules, financial pressures and environmental issues, such as drought and climate.

What motivated water users to comply were the two opposites—at one end it was people wanting to follow the rules and do the right thing, and at the other end were the penalties, such as the risk of losing their water allocation or licence, or the risk of a fine or prosecution.

This presentation will look at the three key areas the project identified where government can support behavioural change among rural water users to address those barriers and reinforce positive behaviours.

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