When Noel Hamey started his professional life, he was known as a Photogrammetrist (aerial mapper) and maps were drawn by hand using pen and ink. Today’s surveyors and spatial scientists rely on digital technology and computer programming more than the ability to record, memorise and draw. In a career spanning 40 years, Noel has seen the science of map-making progress from a completely manual task to a totally digital process.
“We now have the ability to overlay other vital information such as medical data, demographics and transport routes, layering information so we can ask questions, pose scenarios and find solutions. This layering of data helps government to locate hospitals, community services and other infrastructure. Commerce, such as insurers, use this data to map claims against flood levels or storm damage. So, we are doing more than locating features and people, we are using spatial data to help solve every day problems.”
Experiencing such rapid and dramatic change fostered an interest in education and professional development as Noel observed the changing job profiles within the industry.
“The days of drafting maps and plans in “pen and ink” have gone and the job profiles have changed. The industry requires people with problem solving skills, creativity, IT skills and mathematics as well as a love of the outdoors.”
Riding the waves of change, Noel spent much of his professional life involved with industry associations, and heavily involved in education and professional development in the field, serving on several education committees alongside government and industry representatives. He maintains a long-term commitment to looking at the jobs of the future and ensuring our higher education system, both the vocational educational and training (VET) and university sectors, is catering for future workforce needs.
Noel has been involved with CPSISC since 2005 and continues to bring that passion and vision to his role as a Board Director for Skills Oz, an organisation he says is providing new opportunities and resources for the construction industry, improving national consistency and supporting the workforce of tomorrow.
In 2015, Noel was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for his contribution to the spatial sciences and his commitment to education. In 2011/12 he successfully lobbied the Commonwealth Government on behalf of industry, for funding for the Critical Skills Development Program. This Program provided additional training and support for more than 300 existing workers in the surveying industry who did not have formal qualifications as TAFE Qld previously did not offer a relevant course of training.
Noel was recognised for driving change from within industry to attain formal qualifications for the Queensland workforce, along with his work bringing together trainers within the sector from across Australia with the aim of achieving national consistency in assessment and delivery.
His career highlights include working in South Africa over a three-year period (1997-2000), mapping water supplies in an area north of Pretoria between Pilanesberg Game Park and a series of small villages where mining was polluting the water supply. Mapping the water sources used by villagers, such as wells, pumps and bores and their use of water, overlaid with medical records, showed that health issues were being caused by poor water quality and contamination from the mining activity.
Working with the University of Johannesburg, the project included educating and supporting the community to access clean water. Over several years there were significant improvements in the communities’ general health, water extraction and usage habits, and a stronger commitment by the local industry to improve waste management practice for the benefit of the local communities and the environment. The program was funded by the Australian Government.
Not surprisingly, Noel’s hobbies include travel and photography and along with iconic locations such as the USA, Europe, Canada, Africa and Asia, Noel likes to travel the road less travelled.
“I always wanted to go to Iceland to see Puffin birds nesting, but when I actually got there, the weather was so bad we couldn’t go out to see them. So that’s still on my list.”
He can however, tick Antarctica off the list – having travelled there in 1977 on Australian Explorer Dick Smith’s maiden flight to the South Pole.
A keen amateur landscape photographer, Noel has won awards for his photography and is planning to publish a book one day, documenting his travels to isolated and remarkable locations.
As a fellow of the Spatial Science Institute, Noel continues to be actively involved with promoting the surveying and spatial information industry and associated educational pathways. He is a member of the National Spatial Education and Career Development Committee, Head of Department, Building, Engineering & Spatial Information at the Canberra Institute of Technology and Past Treasurer and Director of AURISA.