Remote project equals success for prominent builder
There was a lot more to the Master Builders Far North Queensland Housing & Construction Awards' Project of the Year than meets the eye.
The Tagai State College Mer Island Campus Replacement School, which won the prestigious title at the recent gala awards night, involved such a remote location and unique culture that construction company Hansen Yuncken develop a “cultural induction” for staff.
Among other things, they learnt that: “The traditional land boundaries are living trees or even a rock – not your typical fence posts”.
These traditional boundaries were marked on site maps and a local “cultural monitor” ensured cultural issues were dealt with correctly.
A move significant to both cultures was Hansen Yuncken’s sponsorship of the local footy team through uniforms and meat trays for the pub raffles.
“This excellent relationship with the local island people was a very key factor,” project manager David Haydon says.
The project not only provided local children a place to finish their schooling, it meant work opportunities for local adults.
“We were very pleased to have been able to provide … experience and training to islanders in skills ranging from kitchenhand to construction work,” David says. “These trainees logged over 22,000 man hours – our contractual obligation was 7500 hours”.
Some of these trainees are now working with subcontractors here in Cairns.
The project also won three other awards – Health & Education Facilities over $20 million, Sporting & Community Service Facilities over $20 million and Innovation in Environmental Management.
The whole project was characterised by Hansen Yuncken’s positive approach to developing solutions.
Other challenges included constructing 1.2km of sewer through rock, working around machinery breakdowns as there was no mechanic on the island and reviving a football-field’s worth of turf which arrived in less than optimum condition.
David says Hansen Yuncken’s success in the face of such challenges comes down to “safety standards, quality assurance procedures, efficient systems, having a highly skilled and motivated team to work with, and support from above”, no matter how unusual the job.
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Top job: Hansen Yuncken’s award-winning Mer Island project.