Water Allocation & Entitlement Skills Project

Menu: Click across the green arrows to view active and completed project stages. Consultation takes place at every stage of the project.

Case for change

The Management of Australia’s water catchments and systems is of importance to all Australian’s. They are a vital resource that farmers use to produce food and fibre, but home to ecosystems that need to be preserved and managed for the long-term.

For Australian farmers and irrigators, water trading is a complex market to navigate, with fluctuating prices; changing allocations and entitlements; and different allocation, entitlement and trading rules in each state and territory.

Water literacy in education, including VET, is one recommendation of the Keelty Report into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that farming communities’ fragmented understanding of changing water markets is serving to undermine their efficiency and regulatory compliance.

This project will capture the skills needed for the acquisition, management and trading of water within the agricultural, pastoral and production horticultural sectors.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast (see pages 69-74).

The Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 69-74)

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Project Plan

Access to water resources is vital to Australian farmers and the food security of the nation. This needs to be managed alongside policy settings that provide for the management of water catchments and systems, which sustain the flora and fauna that are an essential part of healthy ecosystems.

From its informal beginnings around 20 years ago, water trading in Australia has evolved into a multifaceted market, offering entitlements and allocations that can be bought and sold. For farmers and irrigators, access to water trading can increase productivity, allow choice and flexibility in business decision-making and reduce risk.

Farmers and irrigators operating in these markets need the skills and knowledge to navigate fluctuating prices, manage the buying and selling processes, calculate the carryover of water, and manage risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation. There are also different allocation, entitlement and trading rules in each state and territory, subject to the  local Indigenous and local Government authorities. Unique skills are required to effectively work within the complexities of each market.

These skills are especially important for small and family farms, which, unlike larger enterprises, are often unable to directly employ water market experts. They must develop a sufficient understanding to be able to articulate their needs when negotiating brokerage services. It is important that small family farms, young farmers and the next generation are empowered with the right knowledge, skills and support to effectively navigate water markets.

“Water literacy has changed, such as the need for irrigators to now understand and have knowledge of how a water market operates. A farmer needs to not only farm, but simultaneously be an economist, trader and weatherperson.” Inquiry into Management of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources by Mick Keelty, 2020

National skills standards will be developed alongside industry experts, to support farmers, irrigators and water traders develop the skills necessary to operate in Australia’s various water markets.

Project Scope

This project will develop up to five units of competency that can be packaged within existing qualifications or delivered as part of a skill set suitable for both new and existing workers whose job role involves acquiring, managing and trading water within the agricultural, pastoral and production horticultural sectors.

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Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Relevant Occupations
  • Farmer and farm manager
  • Cropping farmer
  • Cropping farm worker
  • Mixed crop and livestock farm worker
  • Grain, cotton, or pasture farm worker
  • Dairy production managers
  • Production horticulturist (permanent and seasonal crops)
  • Viticulturist
  • Water traders
Relevant Sectors
  • Cotton
  • Rice (including wild rice in Northern Australia)
  • Forage crops (brassica, maize, sorghum)
  • Pasture
  • Cereal (wheat)
  • Livestock (dairy)
Timeline

July-August 2021
Initial scoping

September-December 2021
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

December-January 2021
Drafts available for broad consultation

March 2022
Validation of final drafts

April 2022
Finalisation of Training Package components

May 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

June 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Project Team
William HendersonIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impactwilliam@skillsimpact.com.au
Andrew HorganIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills Impactandrew@skillsimpact.com.au
Tom VassalloIndustry Skill Standards Development Manager and Strategic Training Package Review Specialisttvassallo@skillsimpact.com.au

 

Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in January 2022, and again for validation of final drafts in April 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the units.

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work with water allocation and entitlements, Skills Impact appreciates your input and assistance.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link. Alternatively, contact the project manager, William Henderson on william@skillsimpact.com.au or 03 9321 3526.

Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Webinars will be held to replace the face-to-face consultation workshops Skills Impact would usually host around Australia.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft skill sets and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most, likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

Development

Australian farmers and the nation’s food security are dependent on access to water resources. From its informal beginnings around 20 years ago, water trading in this country has evolved into a multifaceted market of entitlements and allocations. Unique skills are required to navigate fluctuating prices, manage the buying and selling processes, calculate the carryover of water, and manage risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation. It is especially important that those working on small and family farms are empowered with the right knowledge and skills to navigate water markets.

Consultation with Subject Matter Experts is underway to identify the skills and knowledge farmers, irrigators and water traders require to operate in Australia’s various water markets. Three units of competency are currently being developed, to define these skills standards. These units are focused on the skills related to buying and selling allocated water, identifying carry over water options and selling temporary water in a water market. Consultation is taking place with experts who operate in Australia’s various water markets, as market regulations and terminology differ from region to region. There are different allocation, entitlement and trading rules in each state and territory, subject to the local Indigenous and local Government authorities. It is important that the units incorporate the skills required across Australia. The draft units will be available for broad consultation in mid-November and we encourage input from farmers, irrigators and water traders across all states, that work with water allocation and entitlements.

Development outcomes and next steps

The draft qualifications and units will be made available on this webpage for broad stakeholder consultation and feedback mid-December (under the ‘Drafts Available’ menu above). Your input is welcome, please feel free to register your interest to keep informed of project updates and when draft materials are available for feedback.

 

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Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

 

 

Drafts Available

The skills to effectively operate in Australia’s various water markets are so valuable to Australian farmers and irrigators. Access to water trading can increase farm productivity, allow choice and flexibility in business decision-making and reduce risk. Farmers and irrigators operating in these markets need the skills and knowledge to navigate fluctuating prices, manage the buying and selling processes, calculate the carryover of water, and manage risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation. These skills are especially important for small and family farms, which, unlike larger enterprises, are often unable to directly employ water market experts. Water trading is a complex market to navigate. This is why water literacy in education, including VET, is one recommendation of the Keelty Report into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources. Industry and subject matter experts are being consulted as part of this project, to develop national VET skills standards that will support small family farms and the next generation to be empowered with the right knowledge, skills and support to effectively navigate water markets.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the three draft units of competency that were made available for feedback and comments from 16 December 2021 to 7 February 2022. The draft documents, including any comments made, are still available to view below.

Feedback was sought on whether the draft units reflect the current skills standards and practices of industry, and whether job functions are accurately described. The units need to reflect the skills requirements for all Australian states, territories and legislative regions. This is the first time national vocational skills standards have been developed for work in this sector.

Feedback will inform the work on the final drafts which will be available for industry validation in late February 2022.

Draft Units

These draft units incorporate the skills farmers and those with water entitlements require to correctly engage with water trading practices, including the purchase and selling of water, navigating carry over water or continuous accounting options and how to procure, receive and monitor water.

Unit code and nameUnit PurposeLink
AHCWAT3X1 Procure, receive and monitor water for irrigationAn introductory unit for property owners into water trading, targeted at those with a water allocation who wish to procure, receive and monitor water.View draft unit
AHCWAT5X1 Purchase and sell temporary water for agriculture and production horticultureA unit that offers in depth, step by step instructions for engaging with water training, covering both buying and selling temporary water.View draft unit
AHCWAT5X2 Identify carry over water or continuous accounting optionsA unit that instructs a person in how to identify and utilise carry over water or continuous accounting.View draft unit
Consultation to date

The draft  units of competency have been developed in consultation with subject matter experts. They have considered feedback that was received out of workforce functional analysis workshops in October and November 2021. People working directly in the water trading sector participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job functions. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

 

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Validation

Australian farmers and irrigators depend on access to water trading to support farm productivity, support choice and flexibility in business decision-making and manage risk. Expertise is required to operate in Australia’s water markets which have evolved since their informal beginnings around 20 years ago. Skills are required to navigate fluctuating prices, manage the buying and selling processes, calculate the carryover of water, and manage risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation. Water literacy in education, including VET, is one recommendation of the Keelty Report into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources. Consultation is taking place throughout this project, to develop national VET skills standards that will support the next generation to be empowered with the right knowledge, skills and support to effectively navigate water markets.

Thank you to those who provided validation and comment on the final draft skill sets and units of competency for water allocation and entitlement skills. They were made available on this webpage from 8 to 24 March 2022. The documents and any comments made are still available to view below.

Feedback collected during the ‘Drafts Available’ stage indicated a need for two skill sets to be developed to support the skills required by agricultural managers, workers and farmers in participating effectively in Australia’s multifaceted water markets. Based on industry feedback, minor changes were made to the titles of two units along with changes in terminology to be inclusive of all Australian water jurisdictions. Clarification of carry over water was added to the application of one other unit.

Summary of Feedback and Key Changes

Thank you to those stakeholders who provided feedback on the drafts that were made available from 16 December 2021 to 7 February 2022, under the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, webinars, phone call and email. The units were drafted with guidance from subject matter experts, made up of workplace experts and industry. The vast amount of feedback collected online and over the phone, at a time when face to face meetings have been severely limited, is a testament to industry’s passion for their training materials, and the strength of the draft documents could not have been achieved without this feedback.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied in these final drafts can be downloaded below. Please click the ‘Download Summary of Feedback, Responses and Actions’ button.

Unit code and nameUnit PurposeLink
AHCSSNEWXX1 Allocation and/or Temporary Water Trading for Agriculture Managers Skill SetNew skill set to support water trading skills for agricultural managersView final draft skill set
AHCSSNEWXX2 Access, Extract and Monitor Water For Irrigation Skill SetNew skill set to support skills for agricultural workers (primarily famers) to access, extract and monitor water for irrigationView final draft skill set

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by  clicking here

These units we proposed to be added to the elective bank of some of the qualifications under review as part of the Ag & Horticulture Core Skills Project.

Unit code and nameUnit PurposeLink
AHCWAT3X1 Access, extract and monitor water for irrigationMinor title changes since ‘Drafts Available’ stage to better reflect work undertaken and changes in terminology to be inclusive of all Australian water jurisdictions.View final draft unit
AHCWAT5X1 Purchase and sell temporary water for irrigated agriculture, horticulture and production horticultureMinor title changes since ‘Drafts Available’ stage to better reflect work undertaken and changes in terminology to be inclusive of all Australian water jurisdictions.View final draft unit
AHCWAT5X2 Identify carry over water or continuous accounting optionsClarification of carry over water in the Application.View final draft unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by  clicking here

 

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Finalisation

Water catchments and systems are a vital resource that need to be preserved and managed for the long-term to support the interests of all Australians. Farmers and irrigators rely on water resources to produce food and fibre. With the right skills and knowledge, access to water markets can help improve farm productivity, provide greater choice and flexibility in business decision-making, and help inform risk management. Expertise is required to navigate Australia’s water markets, including navigating changing prices, managing buying and selling processes, calculating the carryover of water, and managing risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation.

From its informal beginnings around 20 years ago, water trading in Australia has evolved into a multifaceted market, with different jurisdictions, states and territories in operation. One of the recommendations of the Keelty Report into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources was to incorporate water literacy into education, including via VET.

Industry has provided their expertise throughout this project to develop national VET skills standards that will support the next generation of farmers and those with water entitlements to effectively navigate Australian water markets. Three units and two skills sets have been created to capture the practical skills required to trade water and understand the intricacies of Australia’s complex trading market.

Key Changes
  • Two skill sets have been developed to support the skills required by agricultural managers, workers and farmers in participating effectively in Australia’s multifaceted water markets.
  • Three units have been developed to describe the skills farmers and those with water entitlements require to correctly engage with water trading practices, including the purchase and selling of water, navigating carry over water or continuous accounting options and how to procure, receive and monitor water.
  • The developed units are proposed to be included in the Certificate III in Irrigation and the Diploma of Agribusiness.
Summary of Consultation

A Subject Matter Expert Working Group was established to identify the skills and knowledge required for water trading. The broader industry was consulted on the draft documents at two different stages – the ‘Drafts Available’ and ‘Validation’ stages. Industry from across Australia provided input via the Skills Impact feedback hub, webinars, email, and phone.

Industry experts from across all Australian states and territories offered their feedback on the three units and two skill sets created, as well as advising which qualifications these units should go into. Feedback was received from employers, registered training organisations, associations and government bodies.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied at the ‘Drafts Available’ stage can be downloaded below. A summary of feedback from the ‘Validation’ stage will be available soon.

 

The final draft units and skill sets have undergone an edit and equity and independent quality assurance process, including review by the Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee and State/Territory Training Authorities (STAs/TTAs). The drafts have now been submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for their support, after which they will be forwarded to and State/Territory Skills Ministers for consideration. A Case for Endorsement has been developed to provide information about what changes have been made, who has contributed, reasons for the changes, and their implications. A Companion Volume Implementation Guide (including a glossary) has also been produced to help registered training organisations (RTOs) implement the updated units, skill sets and qualification.

The submitted documents are available for download below. 

Click here to download the Case for Endorsement

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation guide Part 1

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation guide Part 2

Click here to download the Companion Volume Glossary

Click here to download the submitted documents in Microsoft Word format

AHCSS00129 Temporary or Allocation Water Trading for Agriculture Managers Skill Set
AHCSS00130 Access, Extract and Monitor Water For Irrigation Skill Set

Click here to download the submitted documents in Microsoft Word format

AHCWAT303 Access, extract and monitor water for irrigation
AHCWAT505 Purchase and sell temporary water for irrigated agriculture and horticulture
AHCWAT506 Identify carryover water or continuous accounting

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.