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Director-General Neil Scales presenting

Director-General Neil Scales presenting

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The past year has been one of challenge and rapid change for TMR and I was really pleased with the way our people reacted. Whether they were confronted by the destruction wrought by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, had to adapt to new work practices, or were faced with the introduction of new technology, our people rose to the challenge and delivered for our customers.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, battered the state in March/April and was undoubtedly the biggest single event we had to contend with this year. The high winds, heavy rainfall and widespread flooding caused extensive disruption to Queensland's transport network. I am always immensely proud of the way TMR comes together at a time of crisis and works tirelessly to restore the network for our customers. The department's response to Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie was a showcase of our values in action. By working collaboratively with emergency services, local councils, private contractors and the community, we got the majority of the network back up and running again in a very short space of time.

Faced with the unpredictability of Queensland's weather and a working environment which is always changing, it's important we retain great people and attract the best and brightest to meet new transport challenges as they appear. During the year we launched our new employer brand, Drive the Journey, to showcase what it's like to work for TMR and the many career opportunities and benefits we offer. Drive the Journey showed the diversity of our people, the broad range of job opportunities we have to offer, the regions we operate in and the many reasons people think TMR is a great place to work.

Building a single integrated transport network accessible to everyone

My department's vison is to create a single integrated transport network accessible to everyone. This year we have taken great strides to achieving this by delivering major infrastructure projects that are key to developing Queensland's economy. Both the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and the Gateway Upgrade North projects remain on track to open in late 2018, while work has commenced on the delivery of the Mackay Ring Road as well as major upgrades to the Ipswich Motorway and the Bruce Highway and the extension of Light Rail to Helensvale, Gold Coast. Improving the Bruce Highway is an ongoing Yeppen Floodplains Project and a notable success this year was the completion of the project to flood-proof a section of this major arterial road south of Rockhampton. Completed in time for cyclone season, this piece of infrastructure enabled a key section of the Bruce Highway to remain open when widespread flooding in the wake of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie inundated the area.

Creating a customer-centric culture

In last year's Annual Report I mentioned the significant achievements made in creating a customer-centric culture in TMR. This remains central to my vision for the department and a major priority in our Strategic Plan.

To equip our people to better understand their customers and recognise changing customer needs, we have established the Customer Experience Transformation Program. Earlier this year its first initiative, the 'Customer First Program', was implemented to embed customer-centric ways of working in everything we do. More than 90 per cent of our people have already attended the Customer First Program and it has helped make us leaders in government customer service.

In February the hard work of our Customer Experience team was rewarded with International Customer Service Standard (ICSS) certification. This is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of the service we provide customers and has helped us identify areas to address before we seek recertification in 2018. ICSS certification is a significant development for TMR.

Positive steps to tackle domestic and family violence

I am a passionate advocate for the prevention of domestic and family violence (DFV). For more than three years, we have been raising awareness of DFV and addressing this serious issue with our workforce. We provide support and counselling for those experiencing domestic and family violence, and have been working to empower and educate our people to speak out against all forms of violence. I was encouraged to hear that in July last year, our efforts in this area had been rewarded with White Ribbon Accreditation, which recognises workplaces taking active steps to stop violence against women.

During 2017, for the third time, I am proud to be taking part in the CEO Challenge Race, which both raises awareness of domestic and family violence, and generates much needed funds to help those affected.

Connecting communities and making lives better

In our Strategic Plan we have made creating liveable regions and active cities a key priority. This highlights the improvements to the quality of life better transport links can bring, particularly for people living in remote communities.

Having been the Queensland Government's champion for the Woorabinda Aboriginal community, 170 kilometres south west of Rockhampton, since 2014 I am particularly passionate about improving transport links for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. During the year we have made great progress with the Cape York Region Package, a $260.5 million project in association with the federal government, to seal roads on Cape York. This project will improve communication to remote communities on the Cape such as Aurukun, Lockhart River and Hope Vale and when complete the package will dramatically improve liveability of these communities.

Looking ahead

Getting set for the Commonwealth Games

With the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (GC2018) now less than a year away, we are limbering up to tackle this major sporting event. An estimated 700,000 people are expected to descend on the Gold Coast for the duration of the Games, placing added pressure on the transport network. TMR is working with GC2018 organisers and the City of Gold Coast Council to develop a transport plan.

Our focus is to ensure athletes, spectators and officials can get to and from venues safely and in good time. This involves delivery of a major package of works including completion of stage two of the Gold Coast Light Rail, linking the existing light rail system to the south east's rail network at Helensvale. There are also significant upgrades to Gold Coast roads which will improve access to venues and the athletes' village.

Fostering innovation and embracing new technology

I have already mentioned the rapidly changing transport environment in which we operate. Innovation is another strategic priority key to the department's continuing success. The transport sector is going through a period of unprecedented technological development. It is important we actively embrace new technology to deliver improved efficiencies for the organisation, benefit Queensland economically and improve transport safety. Some of the significant advancements this year are in the areas of autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, 3D printer design, drones and big data. I am particularly excited that through the Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI), TMR will be conducting Australia's largest on-road testing trial of cooperative vehicles.

Innovation is more than just introducing new technology. It's also about embracing new and different ways of working across the organisation. We need to foster a culture of innovation more broadly across the department and during the year we supported a range of initiatives to do this including TMR's MIXr and TMR Hack. The MIXr connects our people with leading industry professionals and academics to share ideas and explore opportunities for partnership, collaboration and problem-solving. TMR Hack is a new initiative challenging our people to put forward ideas to do things differently and better. I look forward to seeing the results of these initiatives over the coming year.

An exciting time for TMR

Whilst we undoubtedly face challenges, this is an incredibly exciting time to be involved in the transport industry and TMR in particular. The work we do every day plays a central role in the lives of every Queenslander while making a vital contribution to the state's economy. We connect Queenslanders to education, employment, healthcare and tourism.

I would like to sincerely thank all our people for their contribution to the department's continued success over the past year. I would particularly like to thank my senior and executive leadership teams whose hard work and dedication is key to us delivering a safe, integrated, reliable and efficient transport network accessible to everyone.

Neil Scales OBE
Director-General
Department of Transport and Main Roads

ONC (Eng), HNC (EEng), DMS, BSc (Eng), MSc (Control Engineering and Computer Systems), MBA, CEng (UK), FIET, FIMechE, FICE, FIEAust, FCILT, FLJMU, FRSA, FSOE, FIRTE, MAICD

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