John’s improving water for the future

Water Operator.
Community Protector.

Meet John Sebasio – a Senior Plant Operator who monitors the water that nourishes the First Nations people of Bamaga.

As one of five communities that forms the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), Bamaga is the region John calls home. With almost 20 years’ experience in the water industry, John’s strong connection to community drives his purposeful work at Veolia.  

“Why do I operate? I do this for my community – our families, our grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunties, and our children. I think that’s very important.” 

Committed to our shared future 

John started his career in construction but saw an opportunity to transfer his skills to the world of water. Through hands-on experience, professional development and training opportunities, and a secondment at a Water Treatment Plant, John found a more meaningful career path as a Senior Plant Operator at Veolia. 

As the only water operator in the NPA, Veolia is determined to work alongside the Indigenous community of Bamaga to create sustainable solutions that enrich the quality of their drinking water.

When Veolia first arrived in Bamaga, building trust with local community members was key and John played a crucial role as a local who understands the region, the people and the Treatment Plant itself.

“Veolia is empowering First Nations people to take ownership and preserve and manage their own water resources. We’re also giving local young people a chance to learn from us and protect our future.”

From source to tap

John proudly operates and maintains several delivery points along the whole water network, from the Jardine River, through pipelines, surge tanks and water treatment plants, to the water meters across his local community.

“Everything we do is critical so that we meet the current Australian Drinking Water Guidelines of providing quality potable drinking water to communities.”

Local leaders by nature

John believes that the people who work in water are incredibly collaborative, supportive, and understanding. “It’s a great workplace because we can feed off each other and work together. I think everyone in water is a leader in their own way – in their roles and their communities. We also respect one another as leaders, trust and learn from each other.”

Celebrating our people

Driven by innovation and sustainability, the water sector proudly champions people making a real difference – including John. As the winner of the 2023 WIOA Operator of the Year Award, he’s been recognised for his dedication and excellence in water management across the industry.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in essential services and such an important role in the community. However, all this could have not been done without the support from my families. My elders were my role models and without their knowledge and guidance I would not be where I am today. I dedicate my hard work to them.”

Inspiring the next generation

Getting local young people involved in creating sustainable long-term solutions for First nations communities is essential to build on the progress made today. Johns says there’s plenty of exciting work ahead for young people in water. “If you’re considering a career in water, take the leap! It’s a rewarding industry if you’re open to learning new things, proactive and want work with real purpose.”

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