Sharing Whyalla's stories

Is there a story you want to tell about Whyalla, and in the process help make a difference in your community? Then you're about to get your chance.

World-renowned social 'sensemaker' David Snowden is bringing his pioneering approach to solving challenging community issues to Whyalla, courtesy of the Whyalla Stories Project.

Governments, industry and local business - working in partnership with Mr Snowden's Cynefin Centre - are supporting the project, enabling residents to share stories about what matters most to them in the community.

The Cynefin Centre will then identify insights that can be used to inform decision making and bring about improvements for the broader city.

Mr Snowden said Whyalla would be the first Australian city to use his globally-proven engagement program, which involved residents telling stories to help explore the concerns, needs and hopes of their local community.

"What we're looking at is how small changes can make big differences in communities," Mr Snowden said.

"A key part of that is connecting people. For instance, when you move children from being research subjects to engaging in the problem, you can get a huge amount of difference. If you interpret your own stories, you own the outcome."

Mr Snowden has already visited Whyalla and said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm and potential for growth.

"I come from South Wales, so a lot of it felt like it was home," he said.

"When I was spending time with the apprentices in the steel mill, their enthusiasm for their community and their job shone through, and I've seen the same thing in South Wales, so that was special.

"One of the things that struck me straight away is there's huge potential for other industries to develop around the core existing skills, so you could actually use this program to generate new economic initiatives to help make Whyalla more than a one-industry town.

"We'll also look to partner young people with people from their grandparents' generation to come up with novel ideas for intervention within the community - this generated a huge amount of initiatives in South Wales that we hadn't expected."

A key outcome of the program is to demonstrate to government the capability and potential that can be leveraged for change and diversification - using the "energy which already exists in the community".

"Communities have huge capacity to generate capability," Mr Snowden said.

"But if they become dependent on government, you don't get that. There's got to be means by which the evidence of what they're doing becomes visible to government.

"The nice thing about the work we do with stories is we can demonstrate to government officials what's actually working and what isn't working. And we can use that to connect government resources with small ideas which could grow very quickly with their support."

Mr Snowden encouraged residents to get involved to ensure Whyalla could demonstrate to the rest of Australia what's possible through the program.

"This is a real opportunity to make a transformation and I hope people take part in it," he said.

To get involved in the Whyalla Stories Project, or to find out more, head to www.whyallastories.com.au.