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AIG PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2013 – 2014

This last year has been a very busy and productive period for the AIG. We have seen continuing membership growth, a major upgrading of our administrative support and infrastructure, an increased diversity of technical events, and a growing role for the AIG in representing members’ interests in the wider community.

AIG membership continued to grow in 2013 and by the end of the year membership was approaching 2900. As membership continued to grow AIG Council recognised the need to upgrade the management of core AIG operations to provide more efficient service delivery, improve communication with members, and reduce the workload on the volunteers who make up AIG Council and its subcommittees. In response to this need, in 2013 the AIG worked towards:

  • The launch of a new web site which will be integrated with an online facility for membership applications and processing of membership renewals.
  • Initiation of an online events management system to streamline registration and payment processing for AIG events.
  • Integration of member mailing lists to facilitate the updating of member contact details.
  • The introduction of a new AIG logo, following a tender and consultation process.
  • A review and update of AIG News.
  • Appointment of a part-time Executive Officer to assist AIG Council, the Registration Board and subcommittees.

The success of all of these initiatives relies on the dedication of much time and thought from many people. I would like to acknowledge, in particular, Anne Tomlinson and Andrew Waltho (AIG Councillors), Lynn Vigar (AIG Executive Officer), Fiona Makin and Wency Luong (MakinITEzy), and Peter Lewis (AIG NSW Branch) for their commitment and contributions.

Additional initiatives launched during the last year included:

  • A new insurance program for AIG Members, offering professional indemnity and public liability coverage customised for geoscientists.
  • The formation of a National Graduate Committee of early career geoscientists to focus on the issues and concerns relevant to AIG Graduate Members. This committee will have its inaugural meeting in Bendigo in June this year, in conjunction with the AIG Council Strategic Planning Meeting.

Throughout last year the AIG also continued to run regular surveys of members and the wider geoscience community to monitor the employment environment for geoscientists. The surveys showed rapidly increasing rates of unemployment and underemployment, and a potential loss of trained and knowledgeable people from the profession. These results were regularly communicated to the wider community to highlight the importance of geoscience to Australia’s scientific and economic future and to stress the risks posed by the loss of geoscience skills.

The AIG also participated in discussions and debates about issues that affect the interests of members. In the last year AIG contributed submissions to:

  • The Consultation on Reform to Deductions for Education Expenses
  • The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Non-Financial Barriers to Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration
  • The UNCOVER survey on future directions for exploration geoscience research.

At the same time, the state branch committees were organising conferences, workshops and social events for members, including:

  • The East Asia Geology, Exploration Technologies and Mines Conference, held in Bali in May.
  • The 2013 Mines & Wines Conference, held in Orange in September.
  • A series of seminars around Australia on the JORC 2012 Code, held in collaboration with the ASX and the other JORC parent bodies.
  • Numerous one and two-day seminars on a wide range of topics.
  • Career and information events for secondary and tertiary students.
  • Community education and outreach activities, including a booth at the annual Brisbane Show.

Many of the AIG technical presentations are now available to members online, and state branches and Council will continue to increase the amount and diversity of material available to all members.

Members of AIG Council and state branch committees also continued to contribute to ongoing AIG activities, including:

  • Supporting students through the national AIG Bursary Program and through state-based student support initiatives such as travel scholarships and student career events.
  • Representing AIG on several national and international boards and committees, including the:
    • JORC Committee
    • VALMIN Committee
    • Australian Geoscience Council
    • Teacher Earth Science Advisory Board (TESEP)
    • National Rock Garden Committee
    • GSA Geotourism Committee
    • IUGS Global Professionalism Task Group

Although the last year has been very productive, there are still outstanding issues to address. The AIG needs to continue to improve knowledge of members’ professional interests and fields of practice, so as to better target training and professional development opportunities. And a long-term aim of the AIG has been the development of technical specialist groups in fields of geoscience practice. There has been little progress on this to date, but to achieve this aim we need the input and assistance of members in specialist fields, to contribute the ideas and initiatives that will drive this development.

It is pleasing to report that the AIG remains in a healthy financial position. While the increasing role of the AIG in the wider community, its involvement in geoscience education activities at all levels, and in representing the interests of members to government and to relevant national and international bodies, do add to the ongoing costs of running the Institute, we strive to ensure these costs are covered by the annual membership fees. And while the current upgrade of administration infrastructure has incurred set-up costs, the return of surplus funds from the 2012 IGC has provided a valuable and timely addition to reserves to help cover these ad hoc expenses.

The annual report to members is a good time to remind ourselves that the AIG operates largely due to the contributions of many enthusiastic and committed people across Australia who give substantial amounts of their time. The professionalism and skills of the people who make up this network means it is sometimes easy to forget these are members who volunteer, and who make time to support the AIG in their busy personal and professional lives. This is an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the volunteers and others who provide the support and drive that is critical to the continuing growth of the AIG. Thank you to councillors and committee members, AIG members, education donors and sponsors, contract support professionals, and secretariat staff for all your contributions over the past year.

This is also the time of year when we say thank you to those councillors who are stepping down from AIG Council this year – Doug Young and Michael Edwards. Doug has served as an AIG Councillor for over ten years, for many of those years as the Chair of the Membership Committee and a member of the Education Committee, and at all times contributing knowledge and skills. Doug has long been an advocate of increasing the inclusion of, and input from, AIG’s graduate members and has been instrumental in setting up the new Graduate Committee (in fact, the committee was his idea). Michael has also been an AIG Councillor for several years, much of that time as the Chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee (an unsung but vital role), while also the Chair of the NSW state branch committee. Michael’s contributions have been critical in helping AIG expand its professional networks and technical training opportunities so we’ve become better positioned to provide services to our broader membership. Doug and Michael have been highly valued members of AIG Council and they will be missed. However, the AIG will still benefit from their knowledge and commitment. Doug will be continuing as a member of the AIG Education Committee and the Queensland state branch committee, and Michael will continue in his role as Chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee and with his involvement in the NSW state branch committee.

Kaylene Camuti
President
April 2014

Download a PDF of the AIG President’s Report 2014 AGM