ADMINISTRATIVE INSTRUCTIONS FOR FIELD PARTIES
From the late 1960s at least, the Melbourne office issued a copy of its Administrative
Instructions for Field Parties to each person undertaking duty in the field. The
Instructions were accountable documents in that each recipient's name was written
on their copy and a signed acknowledgement of receipt was required.
In essence, the Instructions set out rules and guidelines for the operational
conduct of field party members as well as numerous administrative requirements.
To some extent, the Instructions were perceived to be door-shutting prohibitions
based on past experiences of adverse events. Too often such events had arisen
from risky or other inappropriate behaviors.
However, the practical, operational context in which the Instructions were created
needs to be kept in mind. In the 1960s and 1970s, a large proportion of field
party members were young men from primarily urban backgrounds. As many field
hands gave only one or two years service, staff turnover was high. Parties
operated under fairly harsh camping conditions in the remotest areas of the
mainland and adjacent waters. This often involved four wheel drive vehicle,
helicopter, or small boat travel in one or two person sub -parties to survey points
some tens or even hundreds of miles distant from settlements, main camps or
other party members. Mobile telephones, satellite navigation systems and other
technologies were not yet available. High Frequency radio was the main means of
communication and the Royal Flying Doctor Service was the outside back -up in
case of severe injury or other medical emergency. For these reasons the
Instructions provided explicit "do s & don ts" quickly, as well as useful guidelines
and served as a risk management tool.
The set of Instructions here is courtesy of Laurie McLean and edited to cover only
historically interesting and relevant points (for example samples of how certain
documentation should be completed has been omitted) . It is the 1973 set, the last
complete set issued although less formal updates were provided for the 1974 field
season and some subsequent years.