Geotechnical Drilling work, living space in Australian cities and changing demands

Mar 6, 2017

Geotechnical Drilling work, living space in Australian cities and changing demands

In a number of states of Australia there’s a significant push to infrastructure development.

Australian cities have developed as a primary centre associated with urban areas of a house on a plot of land. For example Sydney, capital of the state of New South Wales, is a very large urban area between the eastern Pacific sea coast and the escarpment of the Blue Mountains which runs north/south parallel to the coast about 56 km/35 miles inland. Perth, Western Australia’s capital, has a similar but narrower structure between the Indian Ocean coast and the Darling Range. Sydney’s land area is about 12,368 square kilometres / 4775 square miles with about 5 million people; Perth’s 6,417 km2 / 2478 square miles. Compare this to Greater London (officially 1,572 km2 /607 square miles) with over 8.6 million and Greater Los Angeles (officially 12,561 km2 /4850 square miles with 18.6 million).

Therefore we need to drive, or take the train, sometimes quite far, even to get to work. In Sydney, major surface and tunnel work is in progress on new road connections to interconnect existing roads and improve travel times.

Sydney has a sandstone base in a stable geological area, so like New York with its granite base, we have a good foundation to build on and in.

There are also changes in policy about housing density and permitted height of regional buildings, with a significant shift in permission to construct apartment buildings which is altering the look of Sydney’s suburbs from tiled-roof houses on a block of land to clusters of higher density housing along major roads and in small urban centres. (Some people like it, some people don’t).

With these changed policy directions also come changed requirements of contractors. Geotechnical drilling contractors in Australia are increasingly being asked about formal evidence of competence.

Contractors working for the all rail operators throughout Australia are being asked to provide evidence of the competence of their personnel by holding certain of the units of competence from the national Australian Qualifications Framework by 1st November 2016. The reason for this is to try to ensure that safe and consistent work practices are demonstrated by contractors where and whenever work occurs across the nation. Unlike the mining industry and the oil and gas industry, where the requirement is enforced state by state usually where it has come about as the result of a coroner’s finding and recommendation after sad and shocking incidents, this is a case of the contract principals being proactive nationally.

The same proactive approach can occur at an independent level, too, for example with local councils. Major infrastructure may be state or Commonwealth; apartment buildings development permission usually falls under local government. Australia has three levels of government – Commonwealth (federal), the eight states and territories, and local government. Evidence of competence may be required in tender documents for geotechnical and other drilling work for any level of government work, but it is increasingly so as local level councils have control over some developmental works.

This requirement for evidence of competence based on an external, common national standard is not really surprising or illogical, but it is new and unfamiliar to contractors, especially those with very small businesses. In recent years there has been significant effort over Australia to harmonise many of the ‘tickets’ which contractors must hold (for example, Confined Space Training). The approach taken was to use units of competence from the Australian Qualifications Framework so as to have a consistent and national base of reference and to increase control over the quality and consistency of training.  The same approach, reference to the national standards is being taken here.

The Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee (ADIT C) was established in 1978 and came to our current structure in 1982. Within our organisation we have a Registered Training Organisation for delivering Australian national competency based qualifications (recognised world-wide) either by – training for it, or formally recognising competence where it exists. We also provide company-based training resource materials to assist companies to professionalise their own operations and technical resources such as The Drilling Manual. We are based in Sydney, Australia, and there’s more information on our website at


Virginia Hilliard
Chief Executive Officer


©V Hilliard ADITC Ltd 2017