President’s Desk

Each month the President of ISNSW, Tony Proust, addresses the considerations and concerns of the Institution's members and the surveying industry alike. 

It has been an extraordinary summer. Bushfires then snow in Tasmania. Drought and massive fish kills in NSW and extensive monsoon flooding and cattle deaths in Queensland. As I write a cyclone is heading for Brisbane, while here in the Hunter, we had the Rocky Hill coal mine decision. As an environmental manager I was particularly interested in the reasons for the mines rejection by the Land & Environment Court. It’s been hailed as a landmark case and brings the issue of climate change to the fore. I am sure we will hear a lot more about this case of climate litigation.

ADS 2019 was a great success. Dr Catherine Ball, the keynote speaker was enthralling and a number of attendees said she alone made the conference worthwhile. Well done all round.

We continued the National Surveyors Discussion Forum with a lunch time meeting including representatives from Institution of Surveyors Victoria, New Zealand Institution of Surveyors, SSSI Queensland and SSSI National.

Topics discussed included planning for regular such meetings at Locate each year starting with Locate 19 being held in Melbourne during April. Common issues of concern include:  

  • Skills shortage and the update of the Demand Study
  • Surveying Taskforce
  • Raising the profile of the profession
  • Exchanging articles between professional publications
  • Preservation of survey infrastructure
  • Locate 19 in Melbourne in April
  • South East Asia Survey Congress in Darwin in August

I hope we will be able to make such meetings a regular event at Locate and ADS each year and perhaps at special events such as SEASC. We can keep in touch by email and teleconferences but you cannot beat an occasional face to face meeting to get to know your colleagues.

The Harbour cruise was billed as Terina’s farewell and we all had a memorable time.

Recently Amy Lowe and I met with staff of the Minister of Innovation and Better Regulation to discuss the Shergold Weir report (refer to my February report) and inform the Ministers staff about our comprehensive and compulsory CPD system. Clearly its early days but I am confident that the surveying and spatial profession has a real story to tell including the advantages of a comprehensive CPD system which in our case helps to protect the integrity of the cadastre.

Our profession tends to hide our light under a bushel and we don’t tell our story to government the community very often, even when we have a good story to tell. CPD is one story we should tell proudly, loudly and often. I hope to be able to report further on this matter in future Azimuths.

I attended the 164th SMIC meeting last month under the chair of Narelle Underwood, the Surveyor General. Both UNSW and UoN have good enrolments, which I partly attribute to the excellent work of the Surveying Taskforce. I am pleased to be able to report that the work of the Surveying Taskforce will soon extend to Queensland and possibly to Western Australia. Watch this space. TAFE also have good enrolments in surveying at their campuses across the state, but not enough surveying teachers, and TAFE will soon be calling for expressions of interest to teach surveying. Being a part time lecturer myself I can assure you that mentoring and teaching students can be a rewarding experience and may well appeal to semi-retired surveyors, working on a part time basis. Please consider.

Another interesting item at SMIC was the Surveyor Generals role in the Geographical Names Board. Narelle outlined the on-going challenge of similar sounding street and locality names. Recently, an emergency vehicle went to the wrong address which came about due to similar sounding street and locality names – such as Smith St Leura instead of Smith St Lumeah. Easy enough to do but demonstrates how important it is to find new street names in new residential estates. We do not need any more Smith Streets or Main Roads. Surveyors and subdivision designers take note.

Lately I have been hearing about a new way of talking about location called What3Words. You can find it on the web and who knows – it might take off.

By the time you read this, the inaugural Woman in Surveying day will have occurred. This is an initiative of the Surveying Taskforce, ACS and ISNSW and involves bringing young female maths and science high school students interested in a career in surveying to Sydney for a day, for an immersive surveying experience. I hope you will read more about the day in a future Azimuth. If it is deemed to be a success we will consider doing it again. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Woman in Surveying event but we were well represented by our new EO Amy Lowe and ISNSW Board Director Laura Walsh.

I recently attended a teleconference of SSSI representatives around the country to discuss the upcoming SEASC event in Darwin in August. I vividly recall attending a SEASC in Christchurch in about 2006, and was blown away to meet one of my old student colleagues from Malaysia who studied surveying with me at WAIT, now Curtin University, in Perth. It’s a small world.

Consulting Surveyors National, together with ISNSW HQ and the ISNSW Regional Groups, has completed a study into the future demand, supply and skills gap for surveying and geospatial professionals with research conducted by BIS Oxford Economics. This research was supported by SSSI and SIBA and now has results for every state and territory in Australia.

This is the third study of its kind, with the first being carried out in 2012 to lay the groundwork. The report, delivered in 2014, provided an update on the initial projections and found there would be a shortage of nearly 7,000 surveyors and associated professionals by 2024 with the gap expected to peak in 2020/21.

As a result, many states activated a Surveying Taskforce to immediately combat the shortages within the profession. Now, 5 years later, with new data available from the 2016 Census and following the infrastructure investment across the country, the report has been reviewed and updated to determine how the projections are trending. The updated report will be launched shortly.

The first Global Surveyors’ day was held in 2018 and I hope it will become a regular event. The background is interesting. In 1984 the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) established National Surveyors Week in the United States to recognize and promote the many contributions by surveyors and the surveying profession in all aspects of life. U.S. President Ronald Reagan also signed a Presidential Proclamation in 1984 recognizing National Surveyors Week and asking citizens to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities paying tribute to professional surveyors and their contribution to society.

Initial discussions were held in 2008 with the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), our international peak body, about establishing a Global Surveyors’ Day.

In 2012 our European friends, CLGE (the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors) launched their first Day of the European Surveyor on the 500th anniversary of Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator’s birth, who we all know well.

FIG is a United Nations and World Bank recognized non-governmental organization of national member associations and other affiliated members from over 120 countries and covers the whole range of professional fields within the global surveying community, including surveying, cadastre, valuation, national mapping professionals, geodesy, geospatial experts and quantity surveyors.

FIG provides an international forum for discussion and development aiming to promote professional practice and standards throughout the world of surveying.

According to FIG, the path to Global Surveyors’ Day began back in ancient Egypt when society first used surveying techniques to divide land. Throughout history, surveyors have remained the pioneers of discovery shaping our world to its current existence by exploring the unknown on earth and in space. Fast forward to 2013 when the signing of the Budapest declaration created a common worldwide celebration for those leaders, past and present. We are proud to proclaim Global Surveyors’ Day as a way to globally recognize the ground-breakers, pioneers, individuals and the industry that has shaped our history and continues to be the foundation of our communities.

Global Surveyors’ Day is on March 21st 2019.

Important meetings next month include APAS 2019 here in the Hunter, the Annual Parliamentary Lunch on April 9, which I plan to attend, followed immediately by Locate 19 in Melbourne. I hope to report on those important events in my next report.


Tony Proust
Meritorious Surveyor
President ISNSW

March 2019

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