Peek into the 2023 Municipal Works and Engineering Conference

May 10, 2023
Municipal Works 29th Conference Wrap Up

‘Meeting the climate change challenge’ was the theme and mission we set for ourselves, our exhibitors, our guest speakers, and our attendees at this year’s conference – and we’re feeling more equipped than ever.

 

Proudly held on Dja Dja Wurrung Country at the Prince of Wales Showgrounds in Bendigo, our two-day national conference kicked off on the 23rd of March to the 24th of March 2023. We had support from partners The City of Greater Bendigo and MAV Procurement, major sponsor Komatsu Australia, and supporting sponsors Energy Safe Victoria, William Adams, KOR Equipment Solutions, Fulton Hogan, Delnorth, Sweepers n Scrubbers and RDO Equipment. Fair to say all the industry big guns were in the house and ready to tackle the climate change challenge.

My intention for the conference was to support professional development, advance peoples’ knowledge and strengthen the influence of individuals and organisations in the municipal works industry. I envisioned an event that encouraged innovation with the facilitation of peer support, networking opportunities and informative programs.

DAY ONE

The following keynote speakers set the tone for the conference in the morning of day one:

  • Dr. Mark Curran from the Australian Antarctic Division
    Dr. Curran is a research scientist within the Australian Climate Processes and Change program and heads up the Aurora Basin ice core project. His role is to lead a team of experts to undertake research trips drilling for ice cores in Antarctica and Greenland. Dr Curran gave us a great amount of insight and context (in terms that were simple to comprehend) on the necessary changes required in the world to combat climate change.
 
  • Josh Howard, CEO and Founder of Single Use Ain’t Sexy
    Josh founded the sustainable hand soap brand, Single Use Ain’t Sexy. His business has single-handedly saved tens of thousands of single-use plastic bottles from hitting landfill. Single Use Ain’t Sexy offers ground-breaking dissolvable hand soap tablets in quirky reusable glass bottles. Josh encouraged us to think differently and shared his journey of developing an out-of-the-box solution to an insurmountable problem – plastic waste.
 
  • Paul Geason, CEO at Wave Swell
    Wave Swell is an Australian company developing a never-before-seen wave powered energy solution. One of the best places in the world for Paul and his team to conduct research and trials is right here in our backyard off the coast of South Australia in the Great Australian Bight. Paul is incredibly knowledgeable with more than 25 years’ executive leadership experience in the communications, technology and energy sectors.
 

Throughout the remainder of the day, we also heard from some municipal works industry leaders, including:

  • Christopher Gray, General Manager of Asset and Environmental Sustainability at Scenic Rim Regional Council on how they dealt with a series of natural disasters. 
 
  • Noriko Wood, Senior Pavement Engineer at Fulton Hogan on road surface technology and sustainability.
 
  •  Darren Wilson, City of Greater Dandenong on ‘Embedding Action on Climate Change in Your Council Plan’.
 

A highlight of the event was the Komatsu conference dinner at the end of day one where 400 people came together for delicious food, drinks, some fun and to hear the announcement of the travel award program winners. The Scared Weird Little Guys entertained us with their unique blend of music and comedy and the dinner ended with a piano bar sponsored by Stabalized Pavements Australia for guests who wanted to kick on – it was a smashing success.

DAY TWO

Turning our attention to day two, it was just as packed as day one with more speakers, sessions and demonstrations.

Craig Niemann, CEO at the City of Greater Bendigo, encouraged attendees to hit the exhibition floor to learn about the latest innovations and technologies in equipment and take it back to their operational teams to focus on sustainability improvements.

A presentation from Jeremy Forbes, Co-Founder and Spokesperson for Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT), touched on the impact of mental health on trades. As a qualified painter and decorator for 20 years himself, Jeremy has experienced the highs and lows associated with the construction industry – financially, physically and mentally. He’s passionate about trades becoming more conscious of how depression, stress, tiredness and frustration can impact their lives and the lives of their loved ones – “the pain of regret is far greater than the pain of hard work”.

To end the conference with a bang, we heard from the final two keynote speakers:

  • Daniel Bull, World Record Breaking Adventurer and Environmental Advocate
    Daniel holds an impressive three Guinness World Records so had some very compelling stories for us. He’s also a member of 1% for the Planet whose mission is to accelerate smart environmental giving by helping fund organisations for a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems. Daniel is also an award-winning keynote speaker.
 
  • Nathan Buckley, former AFL Player and Coach and current Media Commentator
    Nathan openly talked about his life journey and shared insight into some of his career highs and lows.
 

I’m delighted to say the 29th national conference this year was our biggest yet – we had the venue at capacity! Exhibitor numbers increased with a significant number of first-timers, 57 councils from across the country were represented and 615 people attended the event in total.

Our aim for the 2024 conference is to create an event that is bigger, more insightful and packed with inspiration.

Planning is already underway, if you want to stay up to date please register here.

Please view the photos from the 2023 conference, in the gallery below.

I hope to see you next year.

Peter Ali, CEO at Municipal Works Australia.

                   

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