One of Australia’s first female pipeline technicians, Marg Straka has worked tirelessly on the Roma Brisbane Pipeline (RBP) throughout her life.
As a Corridor Technical Officer with APA Group, which owns and operates the pipeline bringing natural gas to Brisbane and the southeast, Straka is extremely proud of her role in ensuring it remains safe and reliable. She said she was proud of the 440-kilometre pipeline which is celebrating 50 years and was the first in Australia to connect a gas field with a capital city. Starting in 1988 at age 27, Straka has been working on the RBP for 31 years, more than half its life.
When Straka started working on the pipeline, her job was to assist staff in typing up facsimiles, letters and reports. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, only the personal assistants had computers, so everything was dictated and then typed up and sent from the Brisbane head office. She said her first “real pipeline job in the great outdoors” was a secondment role, which involved patrolling and checking the pipeline in the Brisbane metropolitan area. “I applied for and got the job when it became permanent — and became one of the first female pipeline technicians in Australia — thanks to the (male) Area Operations Manager, who did not have a problem putting a female into a role dominated by men,” Straka said. “More than a quarter of APA’s total workforce is now female — a significant change from these early days — and among them we have female Senior Risk Engineers, Project Design Managers and Senior Integrity Engineers. There are also a lot of other females in management roles.”
Today Straka’s role involves liaising with all third party organisations (other utilities, councils, the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and property developers, among others) that need to carry out works potentially impacting the integrity of the gas pipelines. This covers excavation, construction of roads and installation of water, sewerage works and telecommunications.
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