International Breaks: Tahiti

International Breaks: Tahiti

Like many of the Polynesian islands, Tahiti was settled thousands of years ago during a mass migration from Southeast Asia, and, though its people share many traits and even language roots with the peoples of other surrounding islands like the New Zealand aboriginals and even Hawaiians, it has its own distinct and fascinating culture. The island remained untouched by Europeans until 1767, when lieutenant Samuel Wallis first landed there in the HMS Dolphin. Over the years, Tahiti has fascinated outsiders the world over, and has become a prominent and friendly destination for travelers.

What does this tropical getaway have to offer? Like most remote islands that still feature access to pristine pockets of nature, some of the best activities in Tahiti are snorkeling and scuba diving in its clear waters. Even if you’re not much of a snorkeler, you can visit one of its many lagoons to get close and personal with the local fish, eels, crustaceans, and other sea creatures during a helmet dive, or you can tour the lagoon on your own motorized underwater submarine scooter.

If you’re into sea mammals most especially, you can go out into the ocean for a whale-watching tour and experience the many species of whale and dolphin that inhabit the waters surrounding Tahiti. For a dryer look at these natural wonders, you might also take a glass-bottom boat tour and watch the aquatic wildlife from the dry comfort of a vessel. Are you more of a risk-taker? One of the most exciting excursions you can go on in Tahiti is swimming with the native sharks and stingrays in Bora Bora. Find a guide to take you out into the shallows and feel the excitement of spending some close-up time with some of nature’s most fascinating predators.

If you’re not one for swimming with schools of fish and exploring the reefs, perhaps you’d like to take a swim at one of Tahiti’s famous beaches. Step into the champagne-colored waters near the shore and watch your feet sink into the white sand. While you’re there, why not get in on some surf lessons and learn to ride the waves with the help of an experienced native? If you want to step it up a notch, you can also try kite surfing or jet skiing along the coast of Bora Bora. When you’re ready to head further into the horizon, try some deep sea fishing and get a chance to reel in one of Tahiti’s many diverse kinds of fish.

Tahiti’s many diverse kinds of fish
Tahiti’s many diverse kinds of fish

Once you’re done checking out the wide, sparkling lagoons of Tahiti, you might want to head inland and explore the body of the islands, along with their culture. One of the best ways to do this is to rent a bicycle and visit the local villages at your own pace, getting a taste for the authentic side of Tahiti and getting a feel for what the native population is really like when the tourists aren’t watching. If you want to bring home more than just souvenirs, but rather a wealth of experience, sign up for some traditional dance lessons and learn the nuances of this Tahitian art form. Dress in the traditional pareo before learning how to move to the same music that Tahitians have danced to for hundreds of years.

When you’re ready to get a wider look at the landscape, many options for tours of the islands are available. One of the best ways to see nature in Moorea is via ATV, where you can explore some of the unique mountains and terrain of Tahiti and get to know many of the local species of plants and wildlife. You can also take a Jeep safari and explore all kinds of landscapes that are inaccessible by other means. Take a tour through different plantations and juice factories to gain an understanding of Tahiti’s fascinating economy.

As the sunset approaches, it’s the perfect opportunity for rekindling that spark of love between you and your partner. Rent a private boat and go out into the lagoons to spend some quality time together in the silence and peace of Tahiti’s paradise. Before you’re ready to turn in for the night, though, you’ll definitely want to take in a dinner show with your family, and see native Tahitians putting on one of their famous fire dances.

No matter where you go in Tahiti, there are fun and fascinating adventures that await you, whether it’s checking out the beautiful landscapes and wildlife, or simply enjoying the quiet, pure beaches with the natives. If you consider yourself to be a world traveler, Tahiti should most definitely be on your bucket list.


No matter where you go in Tahiti, there are fun and fascinating adventures that await you.
No matter where you go in Tahiti, there are fun and fascinating adventures that await you.

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The Importance of Offshore Regulation in Australia

The Importance of Offshore Regulation in Australia

By Stuart Smith – CEO, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA)

In Australia, areas beyond three nautical miles of the shoreline of a state or territory fall under Commonwealth (federal) jurisdiction, which is also where the vast majority of Australia’s conventional oil and gas resources are located. The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is the independent regulator for safety, well integrity and environmental management for oil and gas operations in Commonwealth waters. Offshore projects regulated by NOPSEMA include Esso’s operations in the Bass Strait, the Northwest Shelf Project operated by Woodside, and the Gorgon project operated by Chevron, together with an extensive range of other exploration and production operations, and large scale projects under development.

NOPSEMA recognises the economic importance of the oil and gas industry to Australia, but our independent risk based regulatory functions are entirely separate from the resource promotion and economic elements of the regime. This separation of responsibilities avoids the potential conflicts of interest that may otherwise arise. As an independent statutory authority, we are also free of political influence which enables us to consistently make merit-based regulatory decisions. This is supported by independent reviews undertaken during 2015 which found NOPSEMA to be a robust, rigorous and competent regulator.

NOPSEMA regulates under an objective-based regime which I consider is the best way to achieve strong safety and environmental outcomes. Objective-based regulation is an alternative model to prescriptive-based regulation and has been proven internationally to be particularly effective in managing high hazard and technically complex industries. It was introduced to the oil and gas industry following the Piper Alpha incident in the North Sea in 1988 which saw 167 people lose their lives.

While the current lower oil and gas prices have resulted in a reduction in activity levels, there remains a core body of regulatory effort required to maintain effective oversight of the offshore oil and gas industry. As with all stages of oil and gas operations, there is also a need to ensure that as projects move from the development phase into production that risks are managed appropriately. Across industry in the current climate, it is crucial that any job losses or cost cutting do not lead to a reduction in safety and environmental performance or outcomes. We have not found this to be the case in Australia which is a credit to the industry. Nevertheless, we are continuing to monitor this issue through our rigorous compliance monitoring program. The number of annual inspections has increased since NOPSEMA’s establishment in 2012. A total of 195 inspections were conducted across our safety, integrity and environmental management functions during 2015.

There is still more work that needs to be done by industry to ensure that consultation practices are providing the right information, to the right person, at the right time. During preparation of an environment plan, consultation must be undertaken with relevant persons who may be affected by an activity. Companies must demonstrate to NOPSEMA how these views have been, and will be, taken into account. Effective consultation is not only a regulatory requirement, but also an essential part of companies obtaining and maintaining their social licence to operate.

As a regulator, we also need to demonstrate to our stakeholders why we should have a social licence to regulate. This requires community confidence in our abilities as a regulator to be robust, fair, and consistent. We also need to be open to engaging directly with stakeholders and to continue to take steps to increase transparency surrounding our decisions and processes. This has been a focus of NOPSEMA in recent years and will continue throughout 2016 and beyond.
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About Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith was appointed CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) in September 2014. NOPSEMA is the independent oil and gas regulator responsible for safety, well integrity and environmental management in Commonwealth offshore waters.  Prior to this appointment, he spent 11 years with the Western Australian Public Service as Director General for the Department of Fisheries (2008-14) and Acting Director General and Deputy Director General for the Department of Industry and Resources (2003-2008). Stuart has also worked previously in the Australian Public Service (1989-2003) where he held industry development and regulatory roles in Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.

Diploma in Economics from the Australian National University.

The Era of the Strategic Communicator Jennifer Muir FPRIA – National President PRIA

The Era of the Strategic Communicator Jennifer Muir FPRIA – National President PRIA

Public Relation Institute of Australia     In the era of the strategic communicator, some organisations still struggle to         install communication as part of the brains trust of their business. The                   rapidly changing media landscape and ever-increasing public demand for             company accountability mean communication specialists should be firmly             rooted in the senior management team. Being called in at the last minute to         try to mitigate financial and reputational damage is unlikely to deliver                   optimal outcomes.

The recent PublicAffairsAsia State of the Industry report says rapid changes         to business practices seen in the last five years are set to continue. It found a         growing recognition of the importance for educated and informed                           communicators to have closer proximity to senior management but their               position was not always formally represented at board level.

Communication is often seen as a mid-level position focused on reporting the organisation’s success stories rather than enhancing the organisation’s commercial strategy and developing early intervention tactics for the entire business. There is a crucial difference between strategic communications or public relations expertise and marketing. Strategic communication should be proactively incorporated into all aspects of the business, not as a sideline promoting good news stories. The message is, build it into your business model.

Authenticity is a big winner in today’s communication landscape

A communication strategist helps you find the line between being perceived as an impenetrable bureaucracy and a high performance company. For example, Optus’ Facebook community manager, Dan de Sousa, became a sensation, “Dan from Optus”, by calmly but firmly responding to complaints and threats to staff about its multilingual advertising. Dan isn’t a junior staff member with some self-appointed sass who is “having fun” with a multi-million dollar telco brand – he is sits at a senior level within the business, guiding the engagement strategy for customers at a human level.

At the other end of the spectrum is the #qantasluxury campaign from 2011. At a time the company was at loggerheads with unions and had grounded its fleet, a twitter competition was launched which encouraged people to tweet what their dream luxury inflight experience would be. What was meant to be a chance for people to win a first class gift pack became a medium for people to vent their frustrations towards the airline.

Having strategic communication installed within the foundation of all aspects of your business drastically reduces the chance of such misfires. This approach creates genuine engagement, in turn delivering commercial value. The challenge is keeping pace with the marketplace and supporting these teams as they keep in daily step. There is greater consumer activism, more diverse media, stakeholders who are better informed and engaged while digital media can create a sense of corporate vulnerability and urgency. Underpinning all of this is TRUST – an essential core value and measure for any organisation to earn and manage with its audiences as recently reported in Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2015.

20/20 hindsight isn’t a good strategy

A difficulty for business is measuring how communication positively affects its bottom line. The adage that prevention is better than the cure comes into play here, so when you consider the cost to a company of a crisis, preventing it becomes affordable. Good communication strategists have command of in-depth measurement and evaluation frameworks, which can integrate into legal and financial reporting.

In 2011 the much lauded CEO, Reed Hastings, of the new disruptive kid on the block, Netflix, announced a doomed plan to split the business and increase subscription fees by almost 60%.

The months surrounding the announcement was a period of significant upheaval and turmoil in senior executive ranks after a stable ten years. Four top managers left and its head of worldwide communication was replaced by someone who didn’t have the experience in early-intervention strategy.

There was subscriber fallout, an awkward series of YouTube clips by Hastings and company miscommunication. It culminated in Hastings apologising in a blog post, saying he had slid into arrogance based on past success.

By then its share price had dropped from $US304 to $US77 in three months and it lost 800,000 subscribers. That was off the back of 1m new subscribers in the previous seven quarters. It took Netflix three to four years to claw back its market position.

Investing in your organisation’s communication makes sense

It is short-sighted for business to make other aspects of the business a higher priority simply because it is sometimes difficult to show a direct link between communication efforts and the company’s bottom line. Investing in communication resources and an empowered culture of communication internally and externally will always pay dividends in the long run.

Hiring a ‘gun’ strategic communication specialist isn’t as tricky as you’d think, neither is building a communication culture within your organisation. As with all professional services – accountants, lawyers and business analysts – there are professional standards and quality markers that you can rely upon in your hiring and workforce development processes. The PRIA, as the professional peak body can help guide these important decisions from student level right up to the c-suite.

For more 67 years, the Public Relations Institute of Australia has represented all communication and public relations professionals in Australia. The Institute advocates for the Australia’s 30,000+ professionals, provides professional development, training, mentoring and networking, and works closely with tertiary educators and researchers to ensure that the profession is recognised, rewarded and developed.

To read and download the full profile click on the cover image below. To view this editorial as it appeared originally in The Australian Business Executive magazine, click here.