President's Report November 2017


gypsy10.jpgGaby van Wyk

New Website

It is truthfully with great relief that I can announce the launch of our new website.  As you all know, the board removed the old website after it was badly compromised during a hack attack.  The new website is built on more robust technology with responsive templates for usage on a range of devices and operating systems.  After the departure of our General Manager the project would have taken much longer if it was not for Alex Leith who jumped in and took control.  I want to thank Alex for the enormous amount of effort spent in service of the Institute.  It certainly does not go unnoticed Alex.

If you have not already done so, have a look around the website now.  The site navigation has been completely revised and you will not find everything in the same place it used to be.  We believe that the new site is structured more logically so, if you cannot find something, do look around a bit.  Please give us your comments both good and bad, because as with any other website, ours is dynamic and it can be – and will be changed constantly in order to serve you, the members.

Appointment of Chief Operating Officer

It is my pleasure to announce that we have appointed Ms Anna Palathinkal as Chief Operating Officer.  The appointment is in a caretaker capacity for a period of six months.  This will allow us to go to market for a new General Manager while we still have good governance at the head of the institute.  Ms. Palathinkal comes with a long history of senior management and has already built good relationships with the SSSI staff.  Anna is located in the Canberra office – to contact her you can either dial the main office ( +61 2 6282 2282) or email her at .

2026 Agenda

I also need to address a matter that seems to have created some confusion in the market. I refer to the 2026 Agenda and the actions proposed in it.

First some background: The 2026 Agenda was conceived by several prominent private, government and research organisations within Australia, and was co-chaired by CRCSI and SIBA. The process that was used to create this agenda included individual interviews, an online ideas site, and a series of public participation workshops during which many of the leaders in the spatial industry participated, including many of the leaders within SSSI. At Locate17 the project chairs launched the 2026 Agenda document, including a foreword by the Hon. Angus Taylor. I would like to point out that, although individual members of SSSI, including myself, participated in these workshops, SSSI as an organisation did NOT participate in the development of the document. Before its release, our official comment was sought and was provided. It is however, not a SSSI action agenda.

Looking at the contents of the Agenda, SSSI believes that much of what is contained in the document are truly beneficial for the spatial industry; it supports our own vision, and if the goals set by this action agenda are achieved, it will be to the benefit of the entire industry. Therefore, it is our position that, where possible, we will support this agenda. At the same time, SSSI has its own role in the market, we have a clear mission and we will continue to drive towards collaboration, professionalism, ethical standards and personal development. Although we support the action agenda in general, our goals are not central to this agenda and our activities may not always align with everything in the agenda.

The 2026 Agenda document reported that many leaders in the spatial industry commented on the fact that the spatial industry is divided and that this disunity leads to more destruction - to the detriment of the larger industry.  The industry as a whole suffers because of this issue.  We agree with this comment and we will continue to seek to strengthen existing bonds and create new ones. Using specific feedback from the consultation process, the 2026 Agenda included an initiative suggesting that SSSI and SIBA should merge to form one organisation somewhere in 2019. Many people in the industry have assumed that SSSI agrees to this and are planning for this to occur. I want to be clear that, when we were asked for our comment, we stated that we believed that there was a role for both organisations.  SSSI welcomes the discussion on this issue as part of a greater goal to address the concerns arising from the 2026 consultation process. However, we also know that the Survey industry was not as well represented by the Public Participation process and it is clear that the fractions alluded to – for the most part - exists within this segment.

SSSI believes strongly in collaborating with others in the industry – especially with SIBA – whom we still recognise as the peak Business Association in the Spatial industry of Australia. We have an MOU with SIBA and we are intent on strengthening the bonds with them. We already collaborate in terms of the Locate conference and the APSEA awards. We share office space in some locations and it is our intention to  embark on further collaboration.  We do this because we believe it is in the interest of our members and the greater spatial industry. But, we believe that if the two organisations were to join, it would represent a conflict of interest and would be detrimental to the industry nationally and would hurt our standing internationally. There is no plan to merge with SIBA.

Since the launch of the 2026 Agenda, both SSSI and SIBA have worked to further strengthened our ties, and have had productive discussions to effectively differentiate the responsibilities and goals of each organisation.  SSSI still has a completely separate role from SIBA, and we do not see how such a merger is practical, nor beneficial for our members or for the industry.  And we are also working on collaborations with other players in the industry such as the Institutes of Surveyors around the country.


I have recently attended a talk by a prominent leader within our industry during which the person highlighted the issues of diversity in our industry.  This is not a new issue – we have been aware of the inequalities in our industry for a long time.  We recognise that the absence of women in leadership in our industry is an issue that needs to be addressed and we are committed to do just that.  What surprised me during this talk, was to hear about the extent of the differences in income levels for similar work.  My greatest surprise though, was to hear negative comments from people within the audience.  I cannot believe that these attitudes still exist, but more so, that people are so brazen as to view such opinions in public.  The person turned out to be a non-member - I sincerely hope that our members will join me in making a commitment to do what we can to address this issue.  I would like to draw your attention to the following:

  • SSSI has launched a new Professional Award – the Women’s Leadership Award.  By launching this we are not saying that women cannot compete with men in the same environment.  This is evidenced from the many female award winners we have had in recent times.  However, we are saying that it takes a very special person to rise above others in the middle of a culture that still allows women to be pushed down or not given equal opportunities.  To create balance, one sometimes need to apply pressure in an opposite direction.  We have many female leaders in our industry – let’s give them the recognition they deserve.
  • As National representative for Australia at FIG, SSSI collaborates with the FIG Gender Action group.  Anyone, (male or female) who would like to participate in this activity are encouraged to contact the office and expressed their interest.  You can read more about this by following this link.
  • We are currently re-invigorating the Women-in-Spatial special interest group.  To get involved please follow this link.

AGM 2017

The departure of our previous General Manager has meant that we had to push back the AGM this year.  Our AGM will be held at the NSW conference in Bathurst on 6 December 2017.  Official notifications have already been sent out.

Locate18 and GeoSmart Asia 2018 - Adelaide

Locate Conferences Australia Pty. Ltd. will partner with Geospatial Media & Communications (Malaysia) to co-convene the Locate-GeoSmart Asia 2018 Conference in Adelaide next year. The event will run over three days from Monday 9 – Wednesday 11 April 2018 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

With the theme "The Art, Science, and Business of Geospatial," GeoSmart Asia18 and Locate18 will present an informative, contemporary agenda that will highlight technology advancements, solution-centric applications, and the opportunities presented by business models. This confluence will pave the way for defining the future directions for geospatial industry and establish a geospatial culture across the region.

‘Call for Papers’ is open now!

Submit your abstracts on the following topics and get a chance to be a speaker at this insightful platform.


Defence | Agri-business | Health &community | Energy | Smart Cities | Disaster Management | Other applications


Artificial intelligence | Big data | IoT | Drones | GIS technology | Surveying | Remote Sensing | LiDAR | Other emerging technologies

Submit an Abstract

Call for Papers - FIG Congress 2018

The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) has put out a call for papers for the 2018 Congress to be held next May (6–11 May) in Istanbul, Turkey. You are invited to submit an abstract and full paper for peer review and an abstract for non-peer-review paper by 15 November 2017. CLICK HERE for more information.


Gabriel van Wyk
Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)

Telephone:  +61 2 6282 2282 | Facsimile:  +61 2 6282 2576
Postal Address:  PO Box 307  DEAKIN WEST  ACT  2600 
Location Address:  27 – 29 Napier Close, National Surveyors House  DEAKIN  ACT  2600  |