26 April 2023

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UniSA's inaugural Industry Fellow, Kathy Jarrett.

A research project aimed at revitalising Whyalla and capitalising on the proposed multibillion-dollar hydrogen and renewable energy investment has been launched by the city’s local council in collaboration with the University of South Australia.

City of Whyalla Director of Corporate Services Kathy Jarrett, will devote one day a week over the next six months identifying how the city can embrace a positive future.

Jarrett has been appointed UniSA’s inaugural Industry Fellow, a new research position created by the University to help SA’s regional cities thrive.

In Whyalla’s case, the mission is ’to think constructively about the past, gain optimism and hope for the future and, as a result, gain greater happiness in the present’.

Whyalla has plenty of reasons to be optimistic following the recent announcement by the SA Government to build a $593 million green hydrogen hub near the city.

City of Whyalla CEO Justin Commons says this significant investment in renewable energy will generate a more prosperous future for Whyalla.

“It promises to catalyse an industrial renaissance not seen since the birth of the steelworks, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs across multiple renewable energy and decarbonisation projects,” Commons says.

“Whyalla is caught in a dichotomy between a battle-hardened past – which largely frames the city’s psyche, potentially blocking future pathways – and the promise of incredible growth in the decades ahead.

“We want the community to aim high, be bold and to back Whyalla to not only survive, but to thrive and flourish. To achieve this, Whyalla must attract investment and new residents.

“The scale of change that Whyalla is about to experience cannot be approached using a ‘business as usual’ attitude. We require talented people, better housing, and more amenities. This will only happen if Whyalla aims high to leverage the once in a lifetime opportunity before it.”

Commons says the city needs to be welcoming, inclusive and forward looking, with a clear plan for growth and development.

UniSA will fund a part-time project officer to work with Jarrett over the next six months and map out ideas to achieve these goals.

The University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO, says the project could potentially be expanded and continued beyond six months.

“Key stakeholders from Whyalla’s community – including businesspeople, service providers, community leaders and community groups – will be engaged in this project,” Prof Warrington-Hughes says.

“A series of workshops will also be held, feeding back data to develop a framework and tools that could be implemented to help Whyalla fulfil its potential.

“At the end of the day, we want to co-create initiatives with Whyalla City Council that address any barriers to optimism, growth and development, and at the same time improve residents’ mental wellbeing and resilience.”

Whyalla Mayor Phill Stone says the project will focus on how the community sees itself; how it’s viewed by those outside Whyalla; and how the city can collectively “shift its identity”.

“Whyalla is at a turning point, and how the city grows and evolves over the coming years will be influenced by the attitudes and beliefs of our community,” Mayor Stone says.

“Many people think about what Whyalla used to be like or how it is now. Not many people think about what Whyalla could look and feel like in 10-15 years. 

“The Whyalla community can help shape and influence its future in a positive way if it has the courage to look forward with optimism, as opposed to being constrained with a restricted focus on the lived experience of the past.”




Contact for interview:  Kathy Jarrett M: 0434 305 565 E:  kathy.jarrett@whyalla.sa.gov.au
Media contact: Candy Gibson M:  0434 605 142 E: candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au

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