The South Australian Leadership Academy brought 24 senior executives from government departments to Port Pirie on Wednesday and Thursday to provide them with the opportunity to learn more about Port Pirie’s community development.
The visit was themed community engagement and regional well-being and posed the question to participants, ‘ what might policy makers be missing or not registering in communities?’.
Port Pirie was chosen as an exemplar due to the community mindedness represented by locals and how they were eager to engage and come up with new ideas on improvement and engagement.
Dr Paul Porteous, Navigating Adaptive Leadership Facilitator says that what the executives saw from the Port Pirie examples were community members who cared about their community and wanted to engage with locals, they had the drive for change.
“What you often see in communities, particularly where there has been a recent history of stress, people give up, or they close down and are only interested in what is in it for me and my organisation. With leadership, how do you shift that thinking, to the questions similar to, how does it build our community.”
“Port Pirie was a great example where people were no longer stuck in mindset of ‘oh this is hard’, ‘ it is unfair’, ‘someone should really do something’, to instead say, how do we build our community, how do we really start to workout these issues.”
The group listened to a multitude of voices representing the Port Pirie community, in particular, Dianah Mieglich from Port Pirie CommUNITY and Port Pirie Come See Change Working Group says that the group was able to understand that active listening and using appropriate language for a particular audience, pays dividends.
“Follow up is essential and getting to know your communities, really getting to know them, what motivates them, what drives them and what impacts their daily lives is key to success.”
“Port Pirie is a valuable community, making a vital contribution to the state of South Australia, the nation and the world through its precious resources, secure industry commitment to human health, environment and close community lifestyle. We have changed”, Dianah said.
The Port Pirie community has been able to change the narrative of the city, from a town donned by the reputation of lead, to now becoming a vibrant regional hub.
“It is like an experiment. It is saying, we are not just going to be hostage to a particular narrative, or way. We are going to shift the reputation of our town and the way people are thinking”, Dr Porteous said.
Nyrstar’s strategic solution involves transforming its Port Pirie operations away from that of a primary lead smelter into a state-of-the-art poly-metallic processing and recovery facility.
The on-site transformation is well on track and now the focus is on the transformation of the broader Community.
The community became involved, they came up with innovative ideas to encourage conversation and the notion of come see change.
The academy, apart of the Department of Premier and Cabinet has brought together the executives to be learners, not experts.
“They are coming to learn how community engagement was done, what was difficult about it, what occurred,with the purpose that they can learn from that with how they approach critical policy issues that they work on in the State government.”