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AIG’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response

AIG is critically concerned with the health of members and immediately complied with Australian federal and state government restrictions relating to public events and other gatherings of people engaged in AIG activities.

AIG’s state branches acted rapidly and responsibly to suspend all technical talks, seminars and conferences to help minimise the impact of the virus in our communities.

All face to face meetings of AIG committees have also been suspended and replaced with on-line and telephone conferencing.

Plans are being developed to continue delivery of benefits of membership, including professional development opportunities to members both within Australia and internationally.  An on-line webinar system is being implemented for delivery of technical talks, seminars and short courses to members.  The system will provide an environment in which participants will be able to interact with presenters and have access to presentation recordings following each event.  

Current plans are to use this system include:

  • broadcasting the AIG AGM in May, allowing participation of all members in the meeting;
  • presentation of technical talks, available to all members, both within Australia and internationally; and,
  • delivery of planned seminars and short courses on-line to registered attendees.

A monthly Q&A session is also proposed where interested members will be able to interact with AIG Councillors to provide suggestions on how AIG can better serve members and provide feedback on current activities.

Details of upcoming events using AIG’s webinar platform will be publicised through member emails and the AIG website events calendar very soon.

Delivery of the AIG mentoring programme for 2020 will continue.  The Mentoring Committee is meeting this week to agree on programme delivery details.  Details will be provided as soon as they are confirmed.

Development of a JORC Code public reporting course for members is almost complete.  The course comprises a series of modules that may be completed individually, according to participant needs, or as a complete course.  The course will be launched soon as an on-line webinar series. 

A special publication commemorating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Ok Tedi deposit will be launched soon.  The book provides first-hand accounts of working at Ok Tedi along with the geology and exploration of the deposit that will be of interest to a broad spectrum of members.

A major update of the AIG web site is nearing completion which will provide much improved access to content for members and enhanced information on AIG events and other activities.

AIG is continuing to work with ASEG and PESA to present the Third Australian Exploration Geoscience Conference (AEGC) in Brisbane in April 2021.  Conference planning will, of course, take account of how the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold and be responsive to the needs and concerns of members.

Work to establish special interest groups continues.  Geoscientific data management and GIS are the current focus.  Members interested in establishing a group covering other relevant, geoscientific fields should get in touch.

Professional standards are always a focus area for our Institute.  The JORC Committee has commenced the process of reviewing the JORC Code.  Details of this review and opportunities for stakeholder consultation will be provided as they come to hand.  AIG is also examining the need for accreditation of Tertiary geoscience courses offered by Australian universities to ensure that key competencies required for recognition as a professional geoscientist through AIG membership are adequately addressed by course curricula.

These are challenging times that will have broad impacts on Australian geoscience, many of which may not yet be apparent.  The AIG Council and Branch Committees remain focussed on our Institute’s purpose of representing our profession and delivering high quality, relevant professional development opportunities to members everywhere.  Don’t hesitate to contact your state branch, any Councillor or the AIG secretariat office in Sydney with any concerns or suggestions of how your Institute can better represent members.

Andrew Waltho
President, Australian Institute of Geoscientists

Geoscientist employment improves in Q3

Australian geoscientist employment improved marginally in the third quarter of 2019.

The latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey revealed that unemployment amongst Australian. geoscientists fell to 7.4% at the end of September, down from 9.3% at the end of July. The underemployment rate also fell to 14.1%, from 14.9% for the same period.

Australian geoscientist employment – June 2009 to September 2019

The survey results, at a national level, continue a gradually improving trend evident since March 2016, but the rate of improvement appears to have slowed since March 2018.

The number of long-term unemployed geoscientists continued to increase with 47% of unemployed and under-employed geoscientists having little to no work for more than one year, or more than two years for 34% of respondents.

AIG President, Andrew Waltho, welcomed the continued improvement in both the unemployment and under-employment rates, with the reservation that the rate of improvement remains slow. “The most disappointing and serious statistic is the proportion of long term unemployed and under-employed geoscientists” Mr Waltho said. “AIG and kindred professional institutes continue to promote the need to recognise the high-level scientific skills possessed by this pool of experienced professionals that can be applied in a broad range of fields where an ability to understand and interpret Earth systems and processes is valuable”. “In the meantime, AIG continues to provide members with effective and accessible opportunities for members to maintain and expand their professional networks and undertake continued professional development” Mr Waltho said. “Members accessing these opportunities are actively working to resurrect their careers and value this support” he said.

The unemployment and under-employment rates amongst geoscientists in Australia varied substantially between states.

Unemployment amongst geoscientists decreased in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, but increased in Victoria and South Australia. The greatest improvement in unemployment was evident in Victoria. No Northern Territory respondents responded as being unemployed. Too few responses were received from Tasmania for state results to be reported.

Under-employment, defined as respondents being able to attract less than 25% of their desired workload, decreased in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia but increased in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. The lowest under-employment results was evident in Victoria.

Australian geoscientist unemployment and under-employment by state – September 2019

Almost 71% of respondents reported being full-time employees, on staff or fixed term contracts. Only 3% work part time and between 4% and 5% are casual employees. Self-employed geoscientists comprise 22% of the profession.

Australian geoscientist employment basis – September 2019

Geoscience remains a male dominated profession in Australia.

Some 85% of survey respondents were men and 15% women. One respondent identified with neither gender. There are relatively more women pursuing geoscience careers in Australia in the 0-15 years experience groups, with the highest proportion of women responding to the survey having between 10 and 15 years experience.

Gender diversity in Australian geoscience – September 2019

“Clearly, more needs to be done to attract women to geoscience careers, and retain women in the profession with more than 15 years experience if gender equity is to be achieved” Mr Waltho said. “It’s a serious issue, central to the public recognition vitality of the geoscience profession that will take concerted and committed action by all geoscientists in Australia to address”.

The next employment survey will open for contributions in early January 2020. AIG values the continued support of both members and non-members who take a few minutes to complete the survey each quarter and encourages as many geoscientists working in all sectors of the profession in Australia to contribute.

Funding for Women’s Leadership Development Available

Women and Leadership Australia have funding is available to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s science sector. 

The initiative is providing women with grants of between $2,000 and $7,000 to enable participation in one of three programs that cover such things as reinforcing resilience and wellbeing, engaging with challenge and conflict, creating future focus, leading authentically and driving performance.

The scholarship funding is provided with the specific intent of providing powerful and effective development opportunities for science sector women, but has to be allocated by the end of 2019.

Expressions of Interest 

Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form here prior to 6th December: www.wla.edu.au/funding.html

Exploration Radio

AIG is proud to announce that it will be a sponsor of the Exploration Radio podcast for the next 12 months.

Sponsorship of the podcast was approved by the AIG Council at its meeting earlier this week.  

The sponsorship will help Exploration Radio’s presenters Ahmad Saleem and Steve Beresford deliver more great content to listeners, including many AIG members, throughout Australia and internationally.

Exploration Radio is always interesting, topical and a great professional development resource for geoscientists interested in all aspects of mineral exploration everywhere, anytime.  

The podcast is particularly beneficial for geoscientists working in the field, on commute rosters or overseas, interested in keeping informed about developments and ideas relevant to both the present and future of their profession.

Listening to Exploration Radio is a valuable, readily accessible source of continued professional development (CPD) hours for AIG members.  

Podcast episodes can be downloaded from the Exploration Radio website or most popular podcast distribution channels, including iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify.

J.H. Rattigan Map Collection

The National Library of Australia is currently undertaking a program of describing and digitizing their map collections.

The library holds a number of collections from cartographers, geographers, planners and other professionals, including geoscientists, that are kept together as formed collections, separate from the library’s general map collection.

The library recently digitised and described the Dr. J.H. Rattigan map collection, which consists of geological maps of the Hunter Region by G.D. Osborne. The collection has a finding aid.

Extract from Osborne’s geological map of the Carboniferous system between Glennies Creek and Muscle Creek, Hunter River District in the NLA Collection.

G.D. Osborne was considered one of Australia’s’ earliest pioneering structural geologists and his hand drawn maps date back to the 1900’s. You can view his collection of hand-drawn maps here.

The library would love to receive feedback and hear how people use these collections. Contact maps@nla.gov.au.

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