Rex Candy: Public Service Medal

A leader in innovative river management has been recognised for 25 years making East Gippsland’s rivers healthier and its communities more resilient.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) congratulates long-time employee Rex Candy for being awarded the Public Service Medal in the Australia Day 2024 Honours List (Meritorious Awards) for his contributions to waterway management.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne Rex commenced his career with the (former) State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, before bringing his passion for rivers and engineering together as a river engineering consultant. And for the past 25 years, Rex has led the change in waterway management practices during his career with the East Gippsland CMA.

He has strongly advocated for a new approach to river restoration and has been instrumental in a change that has made our rivers healthier.

This has included flood and bushfire recovery, providing technical assessments on flood behaviour, and leading the stabilisation of rivers across the state. Highlights of his work include programs to rehabilitate the Snowy, Genoa and Cann Rivers in East Gippsland.

A standout example is the work Rex did after major flooding in the Cann River in 1998. The flood worsened erosion which had seen the river channel expand by up to four times its original width. The local community and landholders were at a loss as to how to deal with the damage and what to do next.
As the Operations Manager for the East Gippsland CMA, Rex led engagement with the traumatised community to propose new ideas, change the way things had been done, and work together to improve the situation.

Rex rallied landholders along the Cann River, securing their commitment to help set the river on a new recovery trajectory. These efforts included stabilising the bed and channel of the river and addressing the deepening and widening of the river channel.

Rock and timber structures were introduced to slow water, encourage sediment deposition, and reduce further deepening of the riverbed. Additionally, fencing was installed along the floodplain to exclude stock from the river, while native vegetation was restored to facilitate natural recovery processes.

After 25 years, the health of the Cann River is improving. A continuous native vegetation corridor extends along the entire river. The river is functioning as a natural river system once again.

When the 2019/20 black summer fires swept through the Cann Valley, engulfing forests surrounding the township, the river was a blessing for the community. It was a place for them to feel safe, and the water was also relied on as a critical water source for fire suppression.

The rivers of Gippsland wouldn’t be what they are today without Rex’s expertise. His achievements and successes over the past 25 years are evident in the health and ongoing rehabilitation efforts in the Cann, Snowy and Genoa Rivers.

In retirement, Rex remains a key technical expert in river health and floodplain management. He is still called upon to provide his skills and knowledge to complex expert panels, hearings and recovery efforts following impacts and disasters, such as major flooding and landscape scale bushfires.

Rex Candy, passing on his knowledge of river health
Rex Candy, passing on his knowledge of river health

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout East Gippsland and pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past and present.