Community Development

Western Influences provides communities with a way of developing and strengthening social, economic and environmental policy.  Western Influences facilitates education, engagement and collaboration through creating innovative solutions to meet community challenges and build strong, equitable, sustainable communities.

 

Federal Government Policy

Indigenous Affairs

At the conclusion of the NTER policy evaluation project, the results of the evaluation were used to inform the next ten years of policy for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory – the new National Partnership Agreement for Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory.  This project involved the coordination of a Federal Government taskforce, consisting of 17 different government bodies and with a $3.4-Billion-dollar budget, set up to design policy that would affect Aboriginal people across three states and a territory.

The Australian Government identified three key areas for consultation across the 73 prescribed Aboriginal communities affected by the Northern Territory ‘Intervention’:

–    School attendance and educational achievement — ensuring all children go to school and succeed

–    Economic development and employment — ensuring Indigenous people are part of the Territory’s economy and that people have jobs

–    Tackling alcohol abuse — ensuring people and communities do not go on suffering the devastation caused by too much alcohol.

This role focused heavily on the integrity of the policy design during the project, objectively assessing new policy proposals across the Federal Government departments and agencies delivering services in the Northern Territory.  Again, this project attracted a lot of media attention that had the potential to shift the debate and influence the policy outcomes.

 

State Government Policy

Justice

The Western Australian Aboriginal Justice Agreement is a partnership framework jointly developed by the Department of Justice, The Department of Indigenous Affairs, the Department of Community Development, the Western Australia Police Service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services and the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia.

The Agreement is intended the Agreement will enable justice-related State Government agencies to work collaboratively and in partnership with Aboriginal people to ensure that they experience the same justice outcomes as other Western Australian citizens by: developing safer and sustainable communities; reducing the number of victims of crime; and reducing over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system.

The Agreement is designed to establish an active and sustained commitment by all parties towards achieving improved justice and justice-related outcomes for Aboriginal people and their communities. It is broad in its approach to enable flexibility in its application across all justice-related sectors that provide policy, programs and services for Aboriginal people.

One of Western Influences’ senior consultants represented the Fitzroy Valley in the negotiation of the Western Australian Aboriginal Justice Agreement: 2009 – 2014.  This involved extensive community consultation to determine the priorities for the community.

 

Education

Western Influences has worked at multiple levels within the education sector.

This work includes building five literacy and numeracy schools in a remote region in Western Australia.  The region had a prevalence of youth suicide as a result of young people believing they had no future, particularly amongst the Indigenous population.  The schools were built specifically to improve Indigenous education outcomes, which then opened up opportunities for employment on graduation.  Not only were the young people engaged in the schools’ programs, the parents were too.  One outstanding success is a mother of six young children who was fearful of entering the school grounds as a result of negative childhood experiences.  By the end of the second year of opening, the mother was employed as a teacher’s aide and awarded a scholarship for further study.

Becoming a member of a school Board caused the creation of innovative, environmentally friendly classrooms in a Western Australian primary school.  The school was growing beyond its infrastructure capabilities as a result of double-streaming in response to increasing demand for enrolments.  The classrooms were designed to harness passive lighting, heating and cooling; minimise noise from a nearby highway; protect the heritage and fit with the existing federation style buildings; and, leverage funding from the Australian Government’s Building the Education Revolution policy.  Fundamental to the success of this project was the safety of the children during construction.

We developed an innovative vocational education program for students at risk of disengaging from school.  This involved getting two international companies, one in retail furniture and furnishings and one in transport and logistics, to open their systems for use by the students participating in the program.  The students created virtual businesses, modelled off the two contributing companies, and learned how to trade with each other.  This included setting up systems to manage an entire supply chain, from sourcing input for manufacturing to retail distribution.  The students graduated with the capacity to open their own businesses.

 

Health

Western Influences has many years of experience in the health sector.

One revolutionary project was the design and construction of a birthing centre for Indigenous women living in the Central West of New South Wales, Australia.  This was in response to a high rate of infant mortality in the Indigenous community as a result of mothers being reluctant to seek health care from non-Indigenous service providers and health facilities.  This project involved considerable community consultation to ensure that the ethos of the centre was consistent with the needs of the community.  Attention was given not just to the physicality of the centre, but the manner in which it was staffed and operated.  Cultural sensitivity was the of the highest priority.

At the other end of the spectrum, Western Influences was integral in the development of a complementary, natural and alternative therapy centre in a mainstream teaching hospital in Western Australia.  A leading haematologist had seen a model of such a centre in the United Kingdom and had a vision for creating a centre to support people with cancer and leukaemia in Perth.  Western Influences designed the policies and procedures for the centre; managed the recruitment and retention of appropriately trained and qualified therapists; coordinated over 1,000 volunteer support people; and, developed a self-care program for all who worked there.  Western Influences was also involved in the extensive and valuable research on the impact of alternative therapy on quality of life undertaken by the centre over many years.

One of Western Influences’ senior consultants modified the hospital model to suit the private health sector, developing a centre that incubated complementary, natural and alternative therapy businesses.  What began as a small vision to bring credibility to the alternative health sector, soon grew into a nationwide movement, with people from all over Australia visiting the centre to learn how to replicate the model.  Today, hundreds of such centres exist across Australia, with thousands of therapists practicing their therapies in a professional environment alongside their allopathic medicine colleagues.

One of Western Influences’ senior consultants is a Community Advisory Council Member for the Organ and Tissue Donation agency within Western Australia and the Australian DonateLife network

Primarily, this position involves advising on community awareness campaigns; ensuring the trauma of losing a loved one is honoured; and, ensuring that families associated with DonateLife never see the internal workings of the work DonateLife undertakes.  In essence, this role serves to make an extremely difficult process dignified and respectful.

As a Council Member, our senior consultant speaks with surgeons, doctors and nurses at education sessions on the reality of requesting organs and tissue from a deceased person’s loved ones.  Many health professionals feel that loved ones don’t want to hear about the recently deceased being cut up for organ donation.  However, many people appreciate the opportunity to have the deceased person live on in another and to make a difference to the quality of life in others at the same time.

 

Manufacturing

Western Influences is currently supporting an Australian company investigating the feasibility of opening a boat building business in a developing country.  The material the boats are manufactured from is environmentally sustainable, and will last 100+ years with little to no requirement for repairs and / or maintenance.  This new concept in boat building is powered by the most energy efficient motor possible, which makes its running costs negligible.

The Philippines Military has already expressed interest in the boats; and, many other uses such as tenders for oil rigs, commercial fishing in Fiji and eco-tourism in Australia are being discussed.  Bali is being considered as a viable host for this business.  Western Influences is looking for suitable industry and commercial partners to launch this venture.

Establishing this kind of business sets up whole communities with a sustainable future.  Not only are jobs created in the business itself, but jobs are created both forward and backward along the supply chain; and, in supporting businesses such as housing, food and clothing for the workers.

 

Infrastructure

Western Influences has experience working with two water-based infrastructure projects in Australia.

One of these projects is looking for expansion overseas and Bali is a viable host due to its reliance on water for sustainability.  One of Western Influences’ clients has invented and commissioned a mobile pipe extruder, the first of its kind.  With a proven capacity for problem solving through design, materials and engineering experience, the inventor of the mobile pipe extruder makes it possible to manufacture unlimited lengths of HDPE pipe in multiple diameters without joins; and, it is suitable for any piped-water infrastructure project anywhere in the world.

You can read more about the machine here:  www.polylinepipingsystems.com.au/ .  If you would like more information about this project, contact Western Influences and we will set up the meetings for you.

Western Influences also project managed the decommissioning, demolition and replacement of a water tank and tower that services an Indigenous community in the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia.  There were two primary challenges with the project:  Firstly, the logistical requirements to build the new tank and tower several thousand kilometres away from the project site; and, secondly, the cultural implications of non-Indigenous contractors working on Indigenous lands.  Western Influences worked closely with the Indigenous community members and other Indigenous stakeholders to ensure that their needs were met throughout the project.

 

Sustainable Energy

Western Influences is committed to promoting opportunities for sustainable and efficient resource use and energy generation, such as generating electricity from methane gas, the sun, the wind, ocean currents, or heat from underground.

Western Influences is currently working with an Australian – Indonesian joint venture that is building a beef cattle production farm in Pupuan, Bali.  The team is also working with a leading university, implementing the recommendations from research projects on sustainable beef cattle production.

Whilst the cattle farm project is innovative in its land use, feed lot maintenance and cattle sheltering; it has also developed a method for harvesting methane for electricity generation.  One of the goals of this project is to develop the electricity generation component such that it can be implemented by small cattle farming operations across Bali, and further afield.  The economic impact of reducing the cost of electricity, and providing an opportunity to sell electricity back to the grid for profit, on Bali’s micro farmers and subsistence farmers is profound.  This project alone will transform whole communities currently living below the poverty line.

 

Primary Production

The Kimberley region in Western Australia is renowned for its beef cattle production and international exports of quality beef.  Much of the land is controlled by Indigenous communities with interest in the cattle stations.  Whilst there is great opportunity in the sector, many of the Indigenous people involved are highly skilled in stockman roles, but not educated in the business of beef cattle production, markets and selling.  Often, the cattle stations fail as a result of mismanagement and end up in the hands of big business.

One of Western Influences’ senior consultants is an Indigenous community development expert.  This experience was leveraged into a project to bring opportunity to and restore the profitability of Mount Pierre Station such that it supports the financial, social and emotional wellbeing of the Indigenous communities that live on it.

The outcomes of the project include the development of:

·        a beef cattle production vocational education program;

·        an administration course for the wives and partners of the stockmen, which produced books in the local Indigenous language;

·        a juvenile justice program to keep youth out of prison and in school;

·        a vegetable garden that could feed the population of 30 adults and children;

·        a horse breaking program that supplied quality stock horses across the north of Australia; and,

·        partnerships with local service providers who specialise in supporting skills, such as tax accounting and corporate law.