2019 Engineering Excellence Awards


The IPWEA Victoria recently celebrated significant achievements in public works engineering with the presentation of its Engineering Excellence Awards at their annual Conference. A highlight of the event for members and sponsors is the Awards Presentation Dinner, where Public Works projects from across Victoria are showcased and recognised for their innovation, achievement and the positive impact they have for their municipalities.

2019 saw several high-quality projects entered from across the state...and the winners were:


Excellence in Public Works Project < $2M

Winner: City of Whittlesea, Missing Links Program

The Missing Links Program responded to concerns regarding the disconnection of communities, resulting from out-of-sequence development, by prioritising the delivery of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The physical disconnection limited pedestrian and cyclist access throughout the municipality and undermines social cohesion in growth areas, increases car dependence and poses significant safety concerns, with the community forced to use unsafe pathways or travel on road shoulders. Whilst improving pedestrian and bicycle links delivers great outcomes for those who regularly walk and cycle, the program did little to grow active travel participation rates across all sectors of the community.

Missing Links Program

An Equity focused Health Impact Assessment (EfHIA) evaluated the potential health impacts within the community. This process made a series of recommendations that minimised negative health outcomes and ensured the infrastructure benefitted larger groups in the community. The final EfHIA report provided recommendations across six key themes: physical activity and social cohesion, traffic safety, safe environments, connectivity and key destinations, walkability, and community engagement. Many of the recommendations aligned with the program’s original criteria and were adopted by Council to ensure the ongoing success of the Missing Links Program, which has seen an improvement in active travel rates in groups such as young children, and single parents, an increase on the community’s perception of social cohesion and safety and also enhanced the overall reach of the Program throughout the community.

The Equity focused Health Impact Assessment and the re-prioritised Missing Links Program is a fantastic example of how innovative thinking and collaboration across sectors, as well as strong capital investment, can enhance traditional engineering solutions to provide positive outcomes for the community as a whole.


Excellence in Public Works Project $2M - $5M

Winner: City of Stonnington, Melbourne High Drain Upgrade

The City of Stonnington set out to minimise localised flooding issues affecting private property in Claremont Street, South Yarra. The project was to tunnel bore and pipe jack 900mm diameter pipes near the existing 600mm diameter drain which was identified to have a mid-point displacement, whilst minimising disruption to the functionality of Melbourne High School and the surrounding commercial area.

Melbourne High Drain Upgrade

The catchment at Claremont Street discharges via a 600mm diameter drain located under Melbourne High School’s Oval. This drain had been displaced and was operating well under capacity and subject to failure. As a result, water floods the northern end of Claremont St near the Melbourne High School entrance and the lower basement levels of 56 Claremont St. The project involved management of several stakeholders including Melbourne High School Old Boys Association, Melbourne High School staff and students, commuters along the Yarra Main trail, and the residents and traders of Claremont Street.

Despite encountering two main challenges, the project was highly successful. It was completed with minimal disruption to Melbourne High School, residents and traders in Claremont Street, road users and the Yarra Main trail shared bike path. Contaminated material was well managed without environmental impact, however the budget was strained and required additional funds to cover the contamination. The duration of the project was extended by 2 months to allow for management of contaminated material which reduced the overall cost of contamination disposal.

This drainage infrastructure project has greater community benefits by improving the livability of the area and minimising flood potential in a major storm event.

Excellence in Public Works Project $2M - $5M Award Winner

Stonnington City Council’s Travis Jenkins with Ventia’s Naomi Nielsen


Excellence in Public Works Project > $5M

Winner: Melbourne Water, Daylighting Dandenong Creek

Through the ‘Daylighting’ Dandenong Creek project, Melbourne Water’s commitment to working with the community and other agencies to achieve exemplary outcomes is clear. What was once a grassed floodway has been transformed into an open flowing channel through world-leading waterway renewal works. Delivered in 2018, an 830m+ section of piped waterway was excavated, and a meandering channel reinstated. Over 28,000 plants were planted with the help of local community. This project is a great example of how Melbourne Water and other authorities can deliver channel naturalisation projects in the future and the value they provide to local communities.

Daylighting Dandenong Creek

Bringing community groups and councils together and encouraging a culture of collaboration and community led decision making, the scope and aims of the project were:

  • ‘Daylighting’ a key section of the creek (‘daylighting’ is the process of restoring piped or underground flows to the surface)
  • Re-engagement of seven billabong sites along the creek, for amenity and habitat
  • Provision of interpretive signage and other amenities, such as seating, drinking fountains and gym equipment
  • Restore and naturalise a section of Dandenong Creek
  • Provide more opportunities for revegetation
  • Increase the natural amenity and signage of the creek to benefit the local community
  • Maintain or improve flow capacity; and
  • Improve instream habitats

What was once a man-made grassed floodway has been transformed into a visible waterway, with greatly improved ecological, biodiversity and community value. Furthermore, the process has created trust and respect between the community, stakeholders and water industry.

In the words of one community member: “The daylighting project is an inspirational example of how past environmental degradation can be reversed. It’s wonderful to see and hear a flowing creek where once was just sterile weedy grassland. Seeing different species of ducks already using this section of the creek gives a hint of how rich this area will be in years to come.”

Excellence in Public Works Project > $5M Award Winner

Naomi Nielsen with Sarah Watkins and John Woodland from Melbourne Water


Excellence in Public Works Project

Commendation: Warrnambool City Council, Liebig St City Renewal

The Liebig St City Renewal project included extensive renovation of the city’s Café, Restaurant and Nightclub precinct, to encourage people to shop and socialize in the area. The project included implementation of universal access principles through eliminating steps at the kerb and door thresholds to the majority of stores in the 150-year-old main street, and encouraging the use of alternate transport and improved pedestrian safety through the addition of bike lanes and a pedestrian priority environment. Renewal of end of life infrastructure assets involved collaborating with several service authorities, including Powercor, Wannon Water, Telstra, NBN and SP Ausnet.

The renovated City Block, encompassing the café, restaurant and nightclub precinct, was delivered in seven months, three months ahead of schedule. This was achieved through savings in civil works by programming similar tasks to occur concurrently, early works for drainage and services, sharing resources such as excavators and trenches, and scheduling a significant amount of night works to capitalise on the longest days and best weather during the February – May construction period.

Ongoing collection and analysis of EFT spend data, pedestrian and static counts, intercept surveys, parking sessions, vacancies and business mix statistics, is demonstrating the economic benefit of investment in main streets.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the Council and its community are the social outcomes, principally making the main street a focus for the community, which in time presents greater social benefits.

Public Works Project Award Winner

Ben Storey and Scott Cavanagh, Warrnambool City Council


Excellence in Innovation - Metropolitan

Winner: Wyndham City Council, Capital Works Dashboard

The City of Wyndham has experienced rapid population growth, and as a result, continuously works to ensure that infrastructure meets the needs of the growing community. In the 2018/2019 capital works budget, Wyndham allocated $146M for the delivery of infrastructure such as the development of roads, community centres, local parks and sports reserves. In 2018, Wyndham launched an interactive online tool, the Capital Works Dashboard (CWD) to ensure that residents across Wyndham are kept informed on changes occurring within their neighbourhoods, via an intuitive dashboard accessible on the Council’s website. The CWD allows residents to see the progress of all capital works in a format that is easily accessible.

The team designed two separate views of the dashboard:

  • External Portal View - the interactive map view made available to the community via Council’s website. This view allows the customer to engage with Council on the works occurring within their area and offer informed feedback.
  • Internal Portal View - provides more details about the projects which are not visible to the public. This includes information on the project budget, the details of the project team and contractor details.

The dashboard offers a visual map with colour coded markers highlighting nearby capital works for an address or a location within a preferred radius. Specific details about a project provide a new level of transparency and access to the capital works program.

The Capital Works Dashboard brings a wide array of benefits to the internal workings at Council and the community, such as:

  • Community and investors are well informed about Wyndham City’s capital works projects.
  • Demonstrates the level of investment made by external funding bodies, such as the State Government.
  • Allows Project Managers to see projects in their area, leading to efficiencies and cross-collaboration opportunities.
  • Refers residents to Council’s consultation platform ‘The Loop’ where residents are encouraged to provide feedback on projects within the municipality.
  • Provides a clear alignment to Budget and City Plan outcomes.

The Council’s Project Management Office now run the dashboard, managing weekly updates of projects, monitoring user feedback and working with the Project Teams to ensure that relevant data is presented to both internal and external users. This project will have ongoing benefits for council staff, contractors, councilors and local residents.

Excellence in Innovation - Metropolitan Award Winner

Sudha Vasudevan, Shambleen Qamar, Linda Smith-Thompson, Melissa Falkenberg and Vierka Tait from Wyndham City Council



Excellence in Innovation - Regional

Excellence in Environmental Sustainability

Winner: Yarra Ranges Council, Mini-Hydro Power Scheme

Upper Yarra Mini-Hydro scheme is a community led innovative renewable energy project in Ythan Creek, a waterway utilized for a ‘run of river’ hydro system. The river water is diverted and piped nearly 900 metres downhill to a power station built beneath Warburton Golf Course before the water is discharged back into the creek.

Mini-Hydro Power Scheme

The system includes:

  • A concrete offtake structure and settling tank to divert water from Ythan Creek while keeping or exceeding set minimum environmental flows of 30 litres/second along the creek.
  • 2 small weirs with landscaped fish-way to allow for continued fish movement.
  • An underground power station containing an Australian build Turgo turbine and generation system, linked to an underground cable that carries power to the grid.

Power generated is returned directly to the grid for use on the network, and water used to turn the turbine is returned to Ythan Creek, which flows into the Yarra River.

The hydro system is performing as designed with maximum power generation reached and variable power generation occurring in line with natural stream flows. When operating at 90% of maximum output the hydro system will generate a total of 780,000 kWh of electricity a year displacing over 200,000 kg CO2 from coal fired power generation. Further to this, the project revegetated over 600 square metres of creek frontage to enhance natural habitat and help protect water quality. Aquatic habitat has also improved with the provision of fish-ways and new rock alignments below existing culverts.

This project not only has environmental and social benefits for the community, but in time will produce economic benefits from the generation of electricity. A community led social enterprise has been created to operate a sponsorship scheme, where profits from the project will be distributed for future community grants programs.

Excellence in Innovation - Regional & Environmenmt Sustainability Award Winner

Simon Woodland with Ventia’s Naomi Nielsen and one of Council’s two Awards for the Mini-Hydro Project


Excellence in Innovation - Regional

Commendation: Warrnambool City Council, Australia’s First Fully Integrated Pay-by-Plate City

Warrnambool’s fully integrated complete pay-by-plate smarter parking solution is the first of its kind to be introduced into an Australian City. Council’s aim was to find a solution with less reliance on physical infrastructure and focused on using technology to manage parking. The system has been in place for over 12 months with 5000-6000 paid sessions daily, and a third of parking income coming from the app, along with a significant increase in compliance and vehicle turnover.

Council wanted an integrated parking management system to provide greater reliability, information on occupancy rates, peak usage times, together with flexible payment options to reduce reliance on coin payments, and to provide data to better manage parking.

Feedback has been positive, as the Pay by App only charges for the actual time parked, meaning people are paying less for their short stay parking sessions, which delivers one of the key goals in providing better outcomes for residents and local businesses. Residents have embraced the convenience of using a simple stop/start session for their parking, reducing the need to walk to meters with coins or walk back to the car to display a ticket.

Excellence in Innovation - Regional Award Winner

Naomi Nielsen from Ventia with Warrnambool City Council’s Scott Cavanagh


Excellence in Innovation - Regional

Commendation: City of Greater Geelong, Road to Success

The Road to Success project team was formed to address community concerns about local sealed road defect issues, such as potholes, not being addressed quickly or effectively. The project aimed to provide community benefits such as improved response times, less complaints, less insurance claims, fewer sealed road defects and improved overall road condition.

Several improvements were identified that utilised existing technology and digital solutions within the council, keeping implementation costs to a minimum:

  • Allocation of pothole customer requests directly to field crew mobile device for scheduling
  • Automated customer notification upon initiation and completion of pothole customer requests
  • Development of an asphalt task planning tool
  • Implementation of weekly asphalt crew planning meetings

Key benefits for both the Council and the community include the early identification of road problems, reduced repair times and safer roads for everyone.

Excellence in Innovation - Regional Award Winner

Naomi Nielsen with Debbie Leeson-Rabie from the City of Greater Geelong


Excellence in Asset Management

Winner: City of Whitehorse, Holistic Predictive Modelling of Council Buildings

The objectives of the project were to develop a tool that takes a holistic approach in determining a detailed predictive analysis of Council’s building portfolio. This analysis will provide accuracy and precision for asset management planning for the Council’s largest infrastructure asset base. The tool is the first of its kind developed in Australia and incorporates service levels, condition scores, component value allocations, and intervention priorities specific to each building in the one modelling system. The model ensures that all buildings are funded at the optimum time to reduce future backlog, whilst improving facility performance which is aligned to customer requirements.

Within council, no two buildings are the same, which added complexity to the project. For each building, the solution calculates the required renewal spend on each specific component at the appropriate time, as well as the annual maintenance spend over a 20-year period. These calculations are based on individual condition scores, level of service scores, functional building hierarchy, replacement value, and the percentage weighting of components based on the type of building.

The solution was designed to provide the following outcomes:

  • Annual renewal & maintenance expenditure projections for 20 Years in several formats
  • Annual itemised works programs for 20 years
  • The cost to deliver a service level over time
  • The service level that will result from increases/decreases in funding
  • The potential impact of alternative treatment strategies
  • The ability to predict and compare the service level of assets and funding required to achieve service levels under multiple scenarios

The reports from the solution were designed to produce a range of powerful and easy-to-digest outputs to facilitate optimal decision making and communication to stakeholders and the community

The shift from an asset-centric view to a service-centric view delivers service levels at lower costs while also addressing the long-term challenge of a growing backlog. As a result, the user satisfaction of community buildings has increased, and condition scores have improved. Reactive work orders have significantly decreased from 3183 p.a. in 2015/16, to 2840 p.a. today; a 10.78% decrease. Maintenance expenditure has in turn reduced creating OpEx savings.

Excellence in Innovation - Regional Award Winner

Jonathon Merrett accepting the Award from Ventia’s Naomi Nielsen


Emerging Public Works Leadership Award

Winner: Mardi Cuthbert, Coordinator Traffic & Transport, Yarra Ranges Council

During her 15 months with the Yarra Ranges Council, Mardi has led the creation of a new team structure, pioneering the development of engineering guidelines for developments, and initiated process improvements across traffic and transport and asset protection teams, with a focus on improving communication with customers and making work more efficient for her engineers.

Mardi has developed strong skills as a Traffic & Transport Engineer, and Leader within the local government environment.

Emerging PW Leadership Award Winner


Public Works Leadership Award

Winner: Ossie Martinz, Director Infrastructure, Monash City Council

With 35 years of public service, Ossie has worked for Monash, Frankston, Moonee Valley & Waverley Councils and VicRoads. He demonstrates leadership through his work for Council, his commitment to the IPWEA and the professional development of public works personnel:

  • For the City of Monash he leads substantial indoor and outdoor workforces and collaboration with a range of sector stakeholders.
  • He was appointed to the IPWEA (Victoria) Board in 2013; served as President from 2015-17 and has been instrumental in the development of the organisation and the growth of our annual Conference.
  • Ossie travelled overseas on an MEFV Study Tour and is passionate about developing the communication, technical and leadership skills of public works engineers and technical staff. He is an active supporter of the IPWEA (Victoria) Leadership Programs and encourages staff to attend and present at external and internal professional development sessions.
PW Leadership Award Winner


Excellence in Innovation - Metropolitan

Commendation: The Regional Collaboration Security Project Group, Shared Security Services

In October 2017 the Melbourne’s Northern Region Group of Councils entered into a partnership to collectively deliver economic, social and value for money benefits for residents and businesses in the region. The intent of the partnership was to develop trust between the councils to assist them being more sustainable in a changing local government arena. As part of this joint effort a regional tender for the Provision of Security Services was developed collaboratively by five Northern Region Councils.

The 5 participating Councils required the provision of Security Services across approximately 235 sites comprising offices, facilities and reserves.

The key objectives were:

  • Development of a best practice standardised specification for security services
  • Improved standards of security services across the region
  • Development of Regional Service Level Agreements and KPIs
  • Improved contract reporting across the region
  • Demonstrated social outcomes for the Northern Region
  • Lower costs for participating councils
  • Stronger relationships across the Councils and knowledge sharing

Some of the key outcomes of the project include the delivery of approximately $1.8M savings across the 7-year term of the contract compared to the business as usual model. Added to this the desire of each council to improve employment opportunities for persons from disadvantaged backgrounds, the group has partnered with the Brotherhood of St Laurence to provide job opportunities for these across the council regions.

Excellence in Innovation - Metropolitan Award Winner

Geoff Glynn and Vito Albicini accepting the Award on behalf of the Project Group