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Shoal Bay Receiving Station and Robertson Barracks Marksmanship Training Range, Australia

Aurecon balances asset upgrades with ensuring cultural sensitivity

The Department of Defence is recognised as Australia’s largest landowner. With over 70 major enduring bases and approximately 562 other properties scattered across the country, hundreds of projects generated from work requests are filtered on a regular basis – all with the goal of keeping the estate safe, secure, and fit for purpose. The Fence Replacement and Repairs at Shoal Bay Receiving Station (SBRS) and Robertson Barracks Marksmanship Training Range (RBB MTR) is one of those projects.

The project involved providing a secure perimeter to SBRS, a Defence Communication Facility located 17 kilometres from Darwin. SBRS share a boundary with RBB MTR, which was in dire need of fence repairs and replacement.The team exemplified exceptional leadership, dedicated program and project management, and collaborative teamwork to ensure the successful delivery of the project, which involved:

  • Construction of Class 3 Fence at SBRS;
  • Installation of Passive Intruder Detection System (PIDS) system at SBRS;
  • Removal of the old fence at SBRS;
  • Construction of Class 2 Fence at RBB MTR;
  • Construction of Class 1 Rural Fence at RBB MTR; and
  • Rectification to existing Class 1 Rural Fence at RBB MTR.

One of the challenges faced by the team was the high level of security and danger in both sites. For instance, a 72-hour notice was required to enter SBRS, and every visitor should log in the visitors’ list at the first of two security gates to gain entry. Once inside, mobile phones should be turned off to avoid interference – this despite the need to be able to regularly communicate at all times. Inside the premises, the team had to work alongside crocodiles, feral pigs, snakes, and even live-firing sessions and other high-risk exercises. Everyone’s safety was of paramount importance, which made the constant observance of safety precautions mandatory.

Another major hurdle the team overcame was revising the project’s original scope, which involved running the realigned fence line of RBB MTR through an area of Aboriginal significance. After several in-depth discussions and collaboration with the Aboriginal Area Protection Authority and a site consultation with the area custodian, a new proposal to complete the project was drafted which met the requirements of both the client and the stakeholders.

The team also came up with a plan that lessened the new fence’s environmental impact. Bat tapes were attached to the top of the new fences at a relatively low cost, so the bat population can sense the fence and avoid getting their delicate wings caught. The original design involved building the new fence outside the existing fence, which would have increased the risk of security breaches. Aurecon was also able to mitigate this issue, therefore increasing the fence’s value for money.

Ultimately, the project was successful not only by strengthening the Defence Department’s asset but also by achieving cultural success through the sensitive management of new works in an Aboriginal area of cultural significance.

The project team was recognised by the Australian Institute of Project Management, receiving a Project Management Achievement Award 2018 – Small Project category (Northern Territory).

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