2019 President’s Report

Australian Institute of Geoscientists > 2019 President’s Report


President’s Report to the 2019 AIG Annual General Meeting, held 14 May 2019 at the Transcontinental Hotel, Brisbane QLD.

2019 has been a year where considerable focus fell on AIG’s corporate governance.

Council considered the appointment of a CEO to introduce professional management of AIG business and to provide a “face” for the Institute for public communications. Engaging a CEO would have involved an increase in membership fees or generation of additional revenue through seminars, conferences and other events. Consultation with AIG’s State Branch committees revealed a lack of support for the proposal.

Council resolved to increase the Executive Officer’s role to the complete management of AIG’s membership database and membership application processes, requiring an increase in the hours for which the Executive Officer is engaged each week. The Executive Officer position remains a casual role, engaged through a third party provider, currently Terrasearch Pty Ltd.

Lynn Vigar has done an outstanding job as AIG’s Executive Officer since creation of this position. My sincere thanks go to Lynn for her diligent performance of this important role, which I’m sure will continue into the future.

The adoption of a new constitution two years ago, coupled with changes to Australian corporate law, resulted in a need to update AIG’s Code of Ethics and Complaints process. A resolution to implement the required changes was put to members as part of the voting process conducted over the past few weeks, with results to be announced at this Annual General Meeting.

Brendan Howard led a thorough review of AIG’s governance processes which identified opportunities for improving AIG’s data security, contracts with third party providers and introduced a Nominations Panel. The latter was responsible for a greater number of candidates for Council in recent years, which led to the second Council election in AIG’s history this year. I consider this to be a very positive outcome for AIG, with the election providing members with an increased opportunity to engage in management of AIG. Brendan has stepped down as a Councillor. The data security issues have been resolved and work to improve AIG’s contracts with service providers is at an advanced stage. I extend sincere thanks to Brendan for his efforts.

The governance review also contributed to the development of a charter for State Branch committees. This charter clearly outlines the responsibilities of State Branches and their committee members as subcommittees of Council, as required by AIG’s constitution. Each state branch committee member will be required to read and certify their understanding and agreement to comply with the charter.

A professional standards committee led by Wayne Spilsbury also looked at qualifications for AIG membership, the role of continued professional development in improving public recognition of geoscience professionals and how AIG could respond to any proposal by state or federal government to introduce licensure for geoscientists in Australia. The likelihood of the latter remains small, but we need to be prepared for any change given developments overseas, principally in the USA, Canada and Europe, and how governments may respond to a scandal affecting our profession. Wayne has also stood down as a Councillor and AIG secretary at this AGM. I extend sincere thanks to Wayne on behalf of members for his efforts as a Councillor and past-President of the Institute over many years.

For the first time, Council used provisions in the constitution to declare a Council position vacant where the incumbent failed to participate in Council meetings and management of the Institute. Councillors are AIG’s directors, with the full responsibilities of company directors defined by Australian corporate law. This requires diligence and active participation in the work of the Institute. AIG’s governance processes are undergoing improvement to protect our Directors and encourage more members to consider taking on this role, to keep AIG as a vibrant, accountable and responsive Institute for its members.

It has been gratifying to see AIG maintain its membership over several difficult years for our profession, particularly in terms of employment opportunities. An improving trend in employment surveys that have now been conducted by AIG for 10 years is encouraging, especially in the falling proportion of long term unemployed.

Kaylene Camuti is also stepping down as a Councillor at this AGM, but will continue her long and passionate involvement in AIG’s Education Committee, responsible for the student bursary programme and other initiatives.

AIG’s National Graduate Committee deserves special mention. A key initiative of the National Graduate Committee is AIG’s incredibly successful mentoring programme which has gone from strength to strength and expanded to cover all members through state-based and distance mentoring initiatives. The success of our programme can be judged by other geoscience groups following the programme as a model for their own initiatives. The National Graduate Committee has been effective in encouraging young geoscientists to recognise the importance of professionalism and institute membership.

State Branches play a major role in delivery of continued professional development opportunities to members throughout Australia. Their efforts cannot go without recognition and sincere thanks.

Fly-in Fly-out employment in Papua New Guinea makes it unreasonable for me to continue as a Councillor and President of the Institute. I would like to thank Council, Lynn Vigar and members generally for their support.

Mike Erceg