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IPWEAQ

Enhancing the quality of life for all Queensland communities

Celisa Faulkner

Branch President

Engineer, Networks

Gladstone Regional Council

0429 607 880

CQ Branch Committee

Adam Doherty (Vice President)

Director

Dileigh Consulting Engineers


Benjamin Ash (Ambassador)

Graduate Engineer 

George Bourne & Associates


Greg Abbotts

Technical Officer

Livingstone Shire Council


Ryan Grayson

Development Engineer

Gladstone Regional Council


Jason Hoolihan

Manager Infrastructure

Central Highlands Regional Council


Garth Kath

Senior Civil Engineer

George Bourne & Associates


Anthony Keleher

Chief Financial Officer

Bundaberg Regional Council


Arvind Jess Layug

Technical Officer/Project Superintendent

Rockhampton Regional Council


Leonard Strub

Developemnt Engineer

Bundaberg Regional Council


Thomas Wager

Graduate Engineer

AECOM Australia

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For the June 2020 CQ Branch President's Report, Branch committee members were asked to respond to three questions.

Celisa Faulkner, Branch President Manager Asset Planning, Gladstone Regional Council


What has been the biggest challenge for your council/ organisation?

One of the biggest challenges has been undertaking technical workshops and meetings electronically. COVID-19 has forced us to collaborate in ways that we wanted to try but have been held back by the thought that nothing can beat face to face. My team has been undertaking two water and sewerage strategic planning projects with a consultant, which originally included a combined 14 onsite workshops. Both projects started in January 2020 with the intent to be highly collaborative through face to face workshops.

In March 2020, as restrictions were introduced, we were forced to convert all workshops to electronic means (Teams or Skype for Business). In doing so we reconsidered the length of workshops, timing and style to suit the new format. Some of the changes included going from day long workshops to multiple one-two hour sessions, material issued prior to meeting to ensure that it was pre-read, and stakeholders brought in for required sessions (rather than all).


Is the way we work about to change forever?

This way of working is certainly here to stay with multiple benefits being realised, including:

• More time efficient for consultants and council

• Positive impact on relationships due to more regular contact

• Decreased cost with approximately a three per cent saving on both projects

• No decrease in quality of work.

There is still place for face to face workshops. However, I no longer believe that good collaboration can only be achieved face to face.


Is your organisation resourced and ready for an infrastructure boom?

The possible infrastructure boom is not surprising and we have been able to prepare with the identification of projects that are ‘shovel ready’. There is a risk that the right projects are not funded. We need to find the balance between creating jobs and stimulating economies with ongoing maintenance and operating costs/benefits. This will be a challenge as we want to boost our community’s spirits through the recovery.

Benjamin Ash, Ambassador Civil Engineer, George Bourne & Associates


What has been the biggest challenge for your council/ organisation?

I would say the biggest challenge for our organisation was ensuring that the workload remained consistent for all employees. At GBA, we look after many water and wastewater projects but some clients made the decision to postpone the majority of their capital works projects to ensure that that plant operators wouldn’t contract the virus. GBA had to co-operate with clients and act swiftly to ensure all staff could continue working as normally as possible.


Is the way we work about to change forever?

I believe that, if anything, the way we work will improve. Contingency plans and emergency procedures may also be reviewed in case a project is forced into delays at no fault by either party. Already, we have seen COVID-19 procedures included in new contracts and this may continue under a different definition in the future. I also think the way companies communicate with each other will improve. I have already seen this happen in-house at GBA – we have been able to communicate more efficiently and effectively with one another as we are all forced to use other communication platforms to continue the way we work.


Is your organisation resourced and ready for an infrastructure boom?

GBA is ready for an infrastructure boom. However, whether or not we will feel the effects of the infrastructure boom is unknown. During the last boom, the impact on us was minimal as some of the local projects were not managed by local companies. We are hopeful this time around that more of the projects can be managed by local firms such as ourselves.

Garth Kath, Associate, George Bourne & Associates


What has been the biggest challenge for your council/ organisation?

Keeping track of movement has been challenging. We have many staff that travel to and from remote and built up areas. It became a daily task to track staff and ensure we would not enable the spread of the COVID-19 virus if one of our employees were to be infected. Very remote shires were cautious in regard to where our employees had been prior to coming in contact with council staff. Our management team had to ensure we exceeded safety expectations.


Is the way we work about to change forever?

I believe Skype for business and Zoom are definitely here to stay in exchange for many face-to-face meetings. Working in the remote area of central west Queensland, we have travelled hundreds of kilometres to have a face to face meeting or an onsite meeting. I believe that many onsite meetings will still be required to fully understand the gravity of a situation but daily, weekly and monthly group meetings in regard to project management or progress will definitely remain digital for us moving forward.


Is your organisation resourced and ready for an infrastructure boom?

I believe we are as resourced as we can be with many senior and long-term staff members.

Benjamin Ash

IPWEAQ Ambassador, CQ

Graduate Engineer at George Bourne & Associates based in Barcaldine. Benjamin presented a paper at the CQ Branch conference, Graduate Engineers out West. Visit our globally recognised Knowledge Centre and search for Ben to view his presentation. Find out more about Ben in our Next Generation Profile on page 58 of our December 2018 Journal Issue.