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The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) is the professional organisation providing member services and advocacy for those involved in and delivering public works and engineering services to the community both in Australia and New Zealand.

Almost all of Australia and New Zealand’s professional consultancy firms which specialise in public sector infrastructure including roads, water, power, rail, ports and airports – are members of IPWEA. Our private sector members bring thought leadership, innovation and a commercial focus to IPWEA’s industry leadership.

With five concurrent streams, keynote addresses, plenty of networking events, a packed exhibition hall, awards to be won and the delights of Perth to explore, delegates were spoiled for choice at the premier event on the IPWEA calendar.

IMG_6818.jpgThe conference kicked off on Sunday evening with a welcome reception for Young IPWEA members and international guests, who came from as far as Scotland, Finland, China, Canada and the US.

At the reception, IPWEA President Ross Goyne and International Federation of Municipal Engineering (IFME) President Doug Drever signed a knowledge sharing MoU between the two organisations.

“The MoU shows that we are very much out there and engaging with partners around the world,” IPWEA CEO Robert Fuller said.

Young IPWEA and international guests then joined the rest of the delegates at the official welcome reception, held in the packed exhibition and sponsored by Complete Urban.

The first official day of the conference was opened with a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony, and an opening address by the Governor of Western Australia, Kerry Sanderson AC.

Fuller filled delegates in on what IPWEA has been up to in the two years since the Rotorua conference, including moving offices to North Sydney, the ground-breaking Street Lighting and Smart Controls Programme, the inaugural Fleet Confrence held earlier in the year, and IPWEA’s continuing collaboration with international bodies.

He also announced IPWEA will be holding an Asset Management Congress in Canberra in August 2018.

IMG_5864.jpg“It will be a coming together of minds, to engage with policy makers in Canberra as we address the future of asset management,” Fuller said.

Conference MC and perennial IPWEA favourite Gerry Gannon kept delegates equal parts amused and informed, bringing his own brand of journalistic questioning delivered with wicked Irish charm to the conference sessions.

Throughout the conference, delegates heard from a number of first-rate keynote speakers, including former Deputy Prime Minister Kim Beazely, who delivered a thought provoking lesson on the US’s impact on Australia’s economy and defence force, and how President Trump’s tenure could impact that.

Beazley laughingly quipped that Trump’s rapidly changing policies and rapid-fire Tweets meant he could never use the same speech twice.

The conference was also addressed by PWC’s Jon Williams, who shared his insights about what the future of work may look like, and how that will impact the industry. Transport Engineer Simon Ginn looked into his crystal ball to predict how driverless cars will change the world, which was followed by a panel discussion with Peter Damen, ARRB, Steve Beyer, Department of Transport and Anne Still, RAC.

The Foundation for Young Australians’ Dhakshy Sooriyakumaran spoke to delegates about how disruptive technologies will change the workplace, which was followed by a panel session with Young IPWEA representatives Will Barton, Steven Vo, Chris Chapman and Nicola Daaboul. The discussion about young engineers in the workforce drew plenty of questions from the audience.

Dr Majid Sarvi delivered the final keynote session of the conference, discussing the important role that connected, multi-modal transport will play in the future. He was then joined by Richard Sellers, Director General of the WA Department of Transport and Professor Peter Newman, award-winning scientist and the Head of Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute.

Speaking to delegates after the conference, the standouts for many were the fantastic social events.

Conference-goers were treated to a night market dinner on Monday, sponsored by TechnologyOne, which went off with a bang -– literally! The Wasamba drumming group danced into the venue in a panoply of colourful ‘circus samba’ costumes, delighting guests and setting the tone for a night of fun and great food.

The lavish Gala Dinner sponsored by Komatsu was the perfect end to the conference. Held in the Grand Ballroom of the Crown Casino, guests kept the dance floor warm thanks to the help of musicians George and Noriko (whose unique fusion of traditional Japanese instruments and country blues has seen them previously featured on Australia’s Got Talent) and later in the night the smooth sounds of the Greg Schultz swing band.

The inaugural IPWEA Excellence Awards, supported by Ventia, were a highlight of the night. Read more here.

The legendary ‘magic tie’ was won by Komatsu, who bid $4,000 to support RedR Australia.