Improving social activities through the Pilbara Community Development projects

Social inclusion in the Pilbara through Regional Development Investment

The Pilbara region has seen a significant change after the $93.5 million investment of Royalties for Regions into the Pilbara Community Development Projects (PCDPs).

PDCPs, which were managed by the four local governments in the Pilbara, helped address the needs in the local communities, which in some cases, had been awaiting for decades. Such needs include the enhancement of public amenities, safety and improving social and recreational opportunities in the Pilbara.

In 2012, an evaluation was undertaken to determine the effect PDCPs investment had made in the Pilbara region.

PCDP projects

Social inclusion in the Pilbara through Regional Development Investment

The Pilbara region has seen a significant change after the $93.5 million investment of Royalties for Regions into the Pilbara Community Development Projects (PCDPs).

PDCPs, which were managed by the four local governments in the Pilbara, helped address the needs in the local communities, which in some cases, had been awaiting for decades. Such needs include the enhancement of public amenities, safety and improving social and recreational opportunities in the Pilbara.

In 2012, an evaluation was undertaken to determine the effect PDCPs investment had made in the Pilbara region.

PCDP projects have had many positive benefits and, in general, many of the processes and approaches used for project planning and implementation were effective, efficient and appropriate.

What did the evaluation look at?

The evaluation looked at the social impact Royalties for Regions made through funding 17 community development projects in the Shires of Ashburton, East Pilbara, and City of Karratha (previously the Shire of Roebourne) as well as the Town of Port Hedland.

What did the evaluation find?

The evaluation found that the relatively small projects ranging between $75,000 and $4.5 million made a significant difference to Pilbara communities. One of the greatest impacts was the creation of community spaces, which increased community integration and enhanced opportunities for community members.

PCDPs have also shifted people’s perceptions of their towns and increased the community’s sense of pride. For people already living in the towns, the projects have made their stay more enjoyable, stating they would consider staying longer.

With local business owners stating: “I think [the new infrastructure has] changed a lot of people's perspective as they walk around town. They see it looking good and they get a bit of a skip in their step.”

Other benefits found from the PDCPs, include:

  • Increasing the capacity of the four local governments to manage projects and change.
  • Opportunities in business development and program expansion.
  • Opportunities to expand new creation and sporting facilities, and revitalising of town centres.

To read more on the PDCPs, click here or alternatively, read the communities experiences below.

  • “She’s met friends so now she’s confident to go to school”

    over 3 years ago

    With the Youth Centre, I was so excited to come back to this because when I left town it was the old [Centre] and I used it...every term my kids would go to either the basketball or I think they did roller skating, all sorts of things, but there wasn’t a lot of recreation in town. I actually had friends who were on the Council who were talking to me about [the Centre] so I was really excited to come back to it.

    The Skate Park is also absolutely fantastic – my kids use that. It’s near the soccer oval...that’s...

    With the Youth Centre, I was so excited to come back to this because when I left town it was the old [Centre] and I used it...every term my kids would go to either the basketball or I think they did roller skating, all sorts of things, but there wasn’t a lot of recreation in town. I actually had friends who were on the Council who were talking to me about [the Centre] so I was really excited to come back to it.

    The Skate Park is also absolutely fantastic – my kids use that. It’s near the soccer oval...that’s just another good thing that’s free and that’s the big problem in this town. We have the mining companies, so the kids are extremely affluent. We also have medium level [income earners], which are like my kids, public servant kids whose parents work and they can afford to send them to things, but then we have a high level of people or homeless people and those kids just don’t get to do things. So things like the Skate Park...are really exciting.

    Definitely [there are lots of outcomes coming from the [Youth Centre] and I believe there’s going to be a lot of part-time, casual jobs as well. So a lot of the kids have started enquiring about that, so we’ll just have to wait for them to get to that age. Now we’re just talking to them about being respectful, not causing any criminal behaviour and if they don’t then they’re welcome to come to these sorts of things... All the public are there, the families are there, so we need to make sure our kids are behaving.

    I have a young lady who I case manage and she has a lack of family support, like a major lack of family support. So we’ve enrolled her in school and then from that we took her to the [Youth Centre] on a Friday night and she was picked up as having talent [in Hip Hop]. So she was entered into some of the extra programs that we worked in with [one of the workers there]. The IHHP [Indigenous Hip Hop Project] Crew picked her up as being somebody who in the future could be a dancer, [who] could be travelling around just like they were travelling around. So IHHP...that’s a bunch of dancers and they basically do it full-time as a living. So they’ve picked her up and she performed on Saturday night at [the Youth Festival]. She’s going to be performing again next month – twice!

    [And] she’s going to netball tonight. So instead of going to emergency accommodation home and just sitting there, she’s actually getting out into the community. Okay, so from that she’s met friends so now she’s confident to go to school [when] before she wasn’t because she didn’t have friends...it’s been just a little shame-busting. She’s learnt a skill, yeah and she’s really enjoying it... It’s a beautiful story.

  • “That’s what’s happening. It’s becoming a better place to live”

    over 3 years ago

    I think it has allowed [our town] to be seen not just as another mining town. The [RfR project] has allowed us to have a competitive advantage to encourage people to actually stay here for more than their two or five year plan.

    l think, you know, [other big towns in the Pilbara] they are often at a competitive advantage... in the past, in terms of trying to source staff, we just couldn’t compete just because of the numbers of people in other big Pilbara towns...Now, we’re certainly in the game. We have a lot to offer potential new employees...

    I think it has allowed [our town] to be seen not just as another mining town. The [RfR project] has allowed us to have a competitive advantage to encourage people to actually stay here for more than their two or five year plan.

    l think, you know, [other big towns in the Pilbara] they are often at a competitive advantage... in the past, in terms of trying to source staff, we just couldn’t compete just because of the numbers of people in other big Pilbara towns...Now, we’re certainly in the game. We have a lot to offer potential new employees and new residents. If we could just crack the housing market, which is still a big issue.

    [In the past] people certainly knew about [our town]. With all the 60 Minutes reports. It was in the week-end papers. It was still seen as a bit of an outback destination that people work hard, play hard and they’re there to chase the money. Now I think when people come to [our town] they’re pleasantly surprised because as soon as they get here, the airport is so welcoming, the greenery in the town, the infrastructure, the parks, the added-on infrastructure that’s happened as a result of royalties. You find other buildings have come along that are very modern and other infrastructure that’s come along that’s very modern.

    I mean you look at the new sports pavilion. It’s got nothing to do with the royalties. It’s actually through Shire funding and also some funding we received from the Pilbara Development Commission. The Royalties for Regions has allowed [others to make improvements too]...it’s a bit like the whale shark, you got all these little fishes that swim with the big fat whale shark, you know others that come along with it...

    I think [RfR has] opened everybody’s eyes up that genuinely we can be a part of this. I would even go as far as to say that there’s a little bit more community pride as well, yes, just with the way people look after their lawns. We’re certainly very busy with our rubbish collection run...these sorts of projects have that ‘trickledown’ effect. I think it’s good. It’s that sense of place. That’s what’s emerging, that sense of “yes, I live in [this town] and I’m pretty proud”.

  • “We’ve never had that kind of positive influence”

    over 3 years ago

    Because I've been at home the last five years and involved in playgroup... I've kind of been back on the other side of the fence. In playgroup, there was lots of talk from new Mums and other people always asking the question, “Do you know what's going on there?” We saw a sign or we saw a bulldozer, "What’s going on?” It was just that curiosity, which we haven't really had before. The reason why I think it is important is because, in the past, nothing has happened for such a long time. There was always talk, even the work...

    Because I've been at home the last five years and involved in playgroup... I've kind of been back on the other side of the fence. In playgroup, there was lots of talk from new Mums and other people always asking the question, “Do you know what's going on there?” We saw a sign or we saw a bulldozer, "What’s going on?” It was just that curiosity, which we haven't really had before. The reason why I think it is important is because, in the past, nothing has happened for such a long time. There was always talk, even the work that I'm doing now in my own job, everyone is so, so sceptical. It's just scepticism... Nothing will ever happen... Just the simple fact of having that sign up... We've never had that kind of positive influence before.

    For me personally, [the Project] is absolutely fantastic. Having hung around for so long, I think that's a personal achievement too. I have been in town for such a long time. To see a lot come into fruition, it's just really satisfying because I know that I've been involved in the blood, sweat and tears…

    A significant change [for me]...is probably the fact that the government is now looking at and recognising that we need to play this ‘catch-up’ [up here]. That we need to do some work in our towns and that we have been struggling, so the voices and everything that we've been whinging about for the last fifteen or twenty years is actually valid.

    It is that sense that we're finally being heard and it's obviously being supported with the things like the construction of The Youth Shed and the Park. That a playground is important to our community because we have such a beautiful, diverse community and our weather is awesome. Something like [the] Park means a lot to us as a local community, so investing in that is important.

  • “A huge difference to the ‘livability'"

    over 3 years ago

    The biggest change I noticed even in that short period of time was the actual shop frontage…doing the whole shop frontage and opening up some of the shops with some glass doors, things like that. That has made a huge impact, aside from the shade canopies and the gardening and the landscaping, just revamping that whole shopfront has had a big impact. Because the big issue in these towns is the ageing and old infrastructure, they look tired, they're old and built in the '60s and '70s and really just need a facelift. So I think that, along with the...

    The biggest change I noticed even in that short period of time was the actual shop frontage…doing the whole shop frontage and opening up some of the shops with some glass doors, things like that. That has made a huge impact, aside from the shade canopies and the gardening and the landscaping, just revamping that whole shopfront has had a big impact. Because the big issue in these towns is the ageing and old infrastructure, they look tired, they're old and built in the '60s and '70s and really just need a facelift. So I think that, along with the provision of shade structures and shelter for when we get the big downpours, even some of the accessibility to the area, so the car parks and bus bays and even the pedestrian walkways, just seem to operate better now and have a bit of a flow. So I think they're probably the bigger impacts. [It is important to] basically improve the ageing infrastructure and accessibility to the area and along with that comes the town beautification side of things, which is great from a tourism point of view. A lot of people come into Tom Price but are visiting Karijini or the areas around and 12 or 18 months ago before this all started, it did look pretty old and tired and didn't look very inviting as a town centre.

    I think [it's important because] it's a bit of town pride and community spirit, that kind of stuff. If people know that money's being spent in their area and things are being upgraded, they're more likely to look after the area and have a better appreciation for it. Having said that, they've had issues with vandalism and things already... but hopefully having a nice area for families to meet and people to go and do their shopping makes a huge difference to the ‘livability’, of the town... The shade and the general space has lifted the whole area, just brightens it up, makes it pleasing to the eye as you walk past. Prior to this project, people would hang around and meet in the Shopping Centre, I guess, because it was the only air-conditioned place to meet. So by having the little water features and the better shade and things like that, people can hang around outside and grab their coffee or whatever and have a chat with friends as they pass through that area, so you do get a lot of traffic through there... I think the little playground area and those kinds of things, just give it something else in the town centre that people won't just rush in, grab their shopping and jump back in their car, they'll actually spend a bit of time in there.

  • “There is somewhere for the community to go”

    over 3 years ago

    Well the real benefit, in terms of just the benefit for the community, is somewhere to go. Somewhere to go especially with the climate and the conditions that are up here and the demographic is quite heavily weighted to young families. Somewhere for them to go, to socialise, to be part of the community in a comfortable air-conditioned environment is what they need.

    Now [there is] some additional lit space and some purpose built areas. In terms of the oval, yeah the usage has gone up because the groups previously were, for want of a better word, ‘clashing’ to use...

    Well the real benefit, in terms of just the benefit for the community, is somewhere to go. Somewhere to go especially with the climate and the conditions that are up here and the demographic is quite heavily weighted to young families. Somewhere for them to go, to socialise, to be part of the community in a comfortable air-conditioned environment is what they need.

    Now [there is] some additional lit space and some purpose built areas. In terms of the oval, yeah the usage has gone up because the groups previously were, for want of a better word, ‘clashing’ to use the one bit of lit space that was there.

    With the park...what it was like before was... I lived here for 12 years when I was younger and I saw it just as it was closed off for the construction when I returned. It was very run down, very tired looking, very old. I'd say there were some dangerous elements around there, especially around the creek beds and that drainage pipe that came through, that was the creek.

    Where it's at now is, I think it's a nice park. There are some really nice spaces, shady spaces for parents to go in and sit down and have a barbecue with other families. I think it's a safe environment for the kids to play in. There's small play equipment scattered throughout there for the kids to explore and learn. That's really on that [design style] side of playing as well. It's not jumping on a plastic bit of equipment, it's actually exploring through the park and jumping on different things and logs and digging and all that sort of stuff.