Enhancing the quality of life for all Queensland communities

    Leigh Cunningham is a lawyer with a career as a senior executive for a number of public companies in Australia and global companies headquartered in Singapore where she lived for 12 years. 

Prior to returning to Australia to take up her current position as CEO for IPWEAQ, Leigh was the Executive Director and General Counsel for the Association of Independent Authors and previously, Director Finance & Operations, Asia for Worldtrade Management Services (a business unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers). 

Leigh has 24 years’ experience in membership organisations including as the CEO for the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators, Australia and concurrently as the Secretary-General for the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, and as the Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Project Management.

Leigh has three master’s degrees in law, commerce and an MBA where she graduated ‘Top Student’. She is also the author of four multi award-winning books.

CEO's Report
June 2019

There is so much happening at IPWEAQ and a lot more under development so for this report, I thought I would provide you with an overview of what we’ve been up to. 


• We are now at 850 members.

• We’ve just launched Student membership (full-time students only) to be delivered in conjunction with universities. This program is about the opportunity to engage with students in a meaningful way; not just an offer of free membership.

We are very pleased to welcome member #850, Kym Murphy


• The new ADAC validation tool is due to be launched this month.

• We’re developing an ADAC User’s Guide to assist with implementation and ongoing management.

• We’re developing a suite of training packages with clear goals and expectations targeted at the various ADAC user groups.

• The ADAC Strategic Reference Group (SRG) has been reconstituted to provide clearer priorities and direction for the TRG.

• The ADAC TRG will have four new sub-groups to address specific areas of expansion for the schema.

• The new Street Planning and Design Manual is due to be launched in October at the Annual Conference. The Minister for the Department SDMIP is expected to launch the Manual (title of the publication still to be finalised).

• Mark Lamont delivered a presentation on the new iMPACT (our native title and cultural heritage online portal and record keeping tool) to the Indigenous Leaders Forum in Cairns earlier this month.

iMPACT goes live this month. Please contact Mark Lamont for a presentation to your council.

• We’ve launched the new Corporate Technical Subscription (CTS) – a technical program specifically designed for consultancies and other businesses engaged in our sector. Welcome George Bourne and Associates - our first corporate subscriber!

• We are developing a new guide and accompanying tools to assist with decision making to optimise asset data.

• We are undertaking a complete overhaul of the Supervisor's Handbook and we invite you to participate in the Working Group.

• We are working with ARRB to develop and manage a national Bridge Inspectors Register.

• Our Working Groups are progressing towards an imminent release of the new Design (CAD) Standards and Survey Standards.

• Updates to Standard Drawings are also coming soon!

Professional Development

• We are developing a Learning Hub – an online portal making personal and professional development accessible for everyone. The hub includes 10 week programs designed to meet your needs at various stages of your career and programs on leadership, specifically for women and specifically for men. We will also offer intensive programs for technical and soft skills.

• New courses under development:

• Introduction to Urban Stormwater Design

• Introduction to Urban Stormwater Assessment Principles

• Bridge Asset Management – Data Driven Decision Making

• New courses recently launched:

• Drainage for Road Design

• Pavement Rehabilitation Workshop

• Basic Geometric Road Design

• Demystifying Extended Design Domain (EDD) Applications

• Management of a Civil Workforce

The Next Generation

• We have a more aged sector than any other. In response, we are focusing attention on high school students and graduates. Our engagement strategy with universities highlights all the great things engineers in our sector create and maintain for our communities. It has not been surprising to learn that very little is known about this as a viable career choice.

• A special Design Thinking workshop to be delivered at the Annual Conference plus other dedicated activities to welcome young professionals to our community

• The highly successful Futures Challenge returns this year with nominations now open for final year civil engineering students.

• Our four Ambassadors – Ben Ash, Jessica Kahl, Joshua Flanders and Maddy Stahlhut offer us great advice on how best to respond to the needs of the next generation.

• Membership of IPWEAQ is now open to full-time civil engineering students and related disciplines.

Women in Public Works Engineering

Master Class to be held at the Annual Conference facilitated by Dr Jillian Kennedy.

• We are the first and only organisation in Oceania listed on the International Women in Engineering Day (IWED) list of global events.

• The new Learning Hub includes specific programs for women in our sector.

• See the results of our recent survey on page 14 from our Director, People & Capability, Nadia Marks. Our action plan is in progress.


• We signed an MOU with the Local Government Finance Professionals (LGFP) to work together to help with the understanding of practical engineering and financial implications of asset management. Ultimately, our goal is to assist local governments with longer-term sustainability

• We have signed an MOU with the Department State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) in support of the new Street Planning & Design Manual.

• We have signed an MOU with CQ University to improve our engagement with academia.


• We will soon launch our Go West campaign to entice students and graduates to venture to remote and rural councils for a rewarding experience and accelerated career pathway.

• We launched Engineers for Disaster Relief - volunteer to assist councils suffering after a natural disaster. We are compiling a register of engineers and others available to assist, where and when and will circulate this to state and local governments.

• We are building our multi-pronged campaign for the elevation and recognition of engineers within local government.


• We launched TEAM IPWEAQ – our very own bike club with our own jerseys. Our inaugural ride was the award-winning Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. The team rides out again 16 June for the Brissie to Bay. Would you like to join us and nominate a ride in your local area?

• We launched the IPWEAQ Alumni – an opportunity for retired members to stay connected with each other and with our community. Our inaugural dinner was held in Rockhampton in conjunction with the CQ Branch conference.


• SWQ Branch Conference, Gatton, March – 191 delegates – the biggest IPWEAQ branch conference to date

• CQ Branch Conference, Rockhampton, May – 165 delegates – the biggest CQ branch conference to date

• Rural Roads Maintenance & Rehabilitation Forum, Croydon, May – 71 delegates

• Annual Conference, Brisbane, 22-24 October 2019 – we are expecting 500+ delegates for another exceptional IPWEAQ conference. Please join us and register early!

Social Media

• We now have over 1,000 followers on LinkedIn with engagement increasing exponentially on both LinkedIn and Facebook.

• Our journal readership has increased 30% since last year and earlier issues of the journal continue to be read emphasising that this is a critical source of valuable information for our sector.

Actions For You 

Or roles requiring volunteers or participants:

• 2-3 volunteers required for each of the following ADAC TRG sub-groups: Water & Sewer, Stormwater & Transport, Open Space and Electrical & Telecoms (including smart assets, CCTV and sensors).

• The 2019 Great Debate: rural engineers are more adaptable than their city counterparts – this is a highly entertaining and enjoyable aspect of the Annual Conference. Do you have a good argument for either side?

• Engineers for Disaster Relief – volunteer to assist councils suffering after a natural disaster. Please contact me or complete the form on our website.

• TEAM IPWEAQ – join our bike club and nominate a ride anywhere across the state. Please contact Johanna Vanling to join.

• Nominate a project or team member for the 2019 Excellence Awards – let’s celebrate the achievements of our sector and the people who serve our communities. Contact Monica Robertson.

• If you are unable to attend the General Meeting on 24 October, please send in your Proxy Form so your vote can be counted!

• Join the new Supervisors Working Group to participate in a complete overhaul of the current Supervisor's Handbook and associated training program.

Thank you!

A huge thank you to our incredible teams at IPWEAQ: Craig, Nadia, Mark, Monica, Johanna, Belinda, Kate, Celine and Kevin. And at QWD: Dave, Rob, David, Carlie, Ryan, Desire and Diana.

A huge thank you to our Board led by Seren who has established an impressive track record as Chair which may well be unbeatable. Thanks to Board members, Craig, Gerard, Andrew, Angela, Celisa, Raad and Bruce. Your unwavering support for our team is invaluable – it allows us to get on with the business of delivering for our members and for our sector.

Leigh Cunningham

Chief Executive Officer