It’s business as usual at the Pilbara Development Commission, which as of 1 July became part of a new State Government portfolio bringing together agriculture, fisheries and regional development under one umbrella.
Working in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will boost the Commission’s ability to capacity to drive positive economic outcomes for the Pilbara.
Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the opportunity would create a more collaborative approach to regional development across the state.
“Backed by the new department makes us a powerful force in regional development and I am excited by the opportunities this new collaborative approach presents for the Pilbara,” Mr Hill said.
“The new department will bring new opportunities, but it's still business as
usual here. Commission staff, office locations and our day-to-day business of
delivering economic and community projects in the Pilbara, will continue.”
Regional Development Commissions across the state will remain in place as legal entities, led by a Chief Executive Officer and governing Board.
The Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development commenced operation on 1 July 2017 as part of the State Government’s commitment to create a more efficient public sector.
Image: Corban Williams, Revealed WA Aboriginal Art Market, 2017, Fremantle Arts Centre. Photography by Jessica Wyld. Image courtesy of Fremantle Arts Centre.
The East Pilbara Arts Centre continues to win high praise for its innovative design and sustainability features. Designed by Officer Woods, the Centre was last month awarded the Jeffery Howlett Award by the Australian Institute of Architects WA. The Centre also picked up commendations for the Sustainability and Colorbond Steel categories.
The East Pilbara Arts Centre has provided a new home for the highly acclaimed Aboriginal art centre, Martumili Artists, and has contributed to a significant growth in artist base, artwork production, local awareness and community engagement for the organisation.
In the twelve months since moving into the centre, Martumili Artists has recruited 51 new artists with more than 1,180 artworks produced in that time. With fully equipped studio facilities located within the centre, Martumili Artists can now offer a full-time studio space for Newman based Martu artists, as well as an employment opportunity for local Martu people.
Significantly, there have been nine new art workers recruited since the Centre opened, compared to just three in the previous 12 months. These employees, the majority being aged 16 – 25, are learning about exhibition curation, installation, artwork documentation, and gallery administration with experienced Martumili staff and external consultants.
Pilbara Development Commission Acting Principal Project Officer Jenna Dodge said the program was improving the employability of young Martu people.
“The Centre has enabled meaningful employment opportunities for Martu people while also providing them with a connection to their culture and country,” Ms Dodge said.
Martumili Artists Manager Carly Day said that the program was empowering young people to become ambassadors for Martumili Artists and Martu culture.
“We are committed to supporting our young Martu people by offering career pathways and employment opportunities both locally and remotely,” Ms Day said.
“With state-of-the-art facilities within the new East Pilbara Arts Centre, Martumili Artists are now able to expand the professional development opportunities for our arts workers.”
The East Pilbara Arts Centre was a collaborative project between Martumili Artists, the Pilbara Development Commission, BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Shire of East Pilbara, and Lotterywest.
Two studies are currently underway in the Pilbara to investigate the export infrastructure required to expand the region’s beef industry. Funded by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development through the Northern Beef Futures project, the studies are assessing both the feasibility and identifying site options for a truck wash-down facility and cattle holding yard near the port of Port Hedland.
Pilbara Development Commission Acting Principal Project Officer Gus Tampalini said the studies were part of the Commission’s economic diversification strategy to support pastoralists, drive new investment opportunities and enable local job creation in the region.
“Over the last three years, cattle from the Pilbara has been exported from ports across WA from Broome in the north, and as far south as Fremantle,” Mr Tampalini said.
The Pilbara currently turns-off 90,000 to 100,000 cattle each year from around 60 pastoral stations.
“The ability to export locally would improve productivity, generate a greater economic return for the region and result in better environmental outcomes.”
The studies follow the Northern Beef Infrastructure Review (the Review) conducted in 2016, which identified priority infrastructure to support the successful development of Western Australia’s beef industry.
“The current export facilities in the Pilbara are limited for a variety of reasons, such as the ability to meet biosecurity requirements and appropriately hold cattle prior to export. These limitations are holding back local export potential and further industry expansion,” Mr Tampalini said.
The Pilbara Development Commission received seed funding from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to complete the studies, which are nearing completion.
The Northern Beef Futures project is supported by Royalties for Regions.
Seven apprentices undertaking a Certificate III in Engineering – Industrial Electrician at the new Electrical Instrumentation Centre of Specialisation in Karratha completed their first block of on-campus learning last month.
The contemporary centre, which opened in November last year, is creating new career pathways for school leavers, as well as opportunities for qualified electricians to complete specialist training.
Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the centre was providing students with access to new training and qualifications not previously available in the Pilbara.
“Creating access to qualifications that are relevant to the Pilbara’s primary industries will help to create more employment opportunities and career prospects for local residents,” Mr Hill said.
The seven apprentices are hosted by Woodside and employed by Programmed.
Woodside’s Asset Manager at the Karratha Gas Plant, Andrew Lobb, said the Woodside-operated North West Shelf Project and Pluto LNG were proud to be industry partners in the EICS.
“This new facility is already making a significant and sustainable contribution to improving training outcomes for electrical apprentices and tradespeople in the Pilbara,” Mr Lobb said.
“It will also help create a pipeline of skilled personnel to operate our facilities into the future.
"We’re very proud of our track record in training up local apprentices and trainees. In 2016, all 28 of our intake were local residents, drawn from the City of Karratha".
More than 95 apprentices are completing qualifications from the new centre, including Certificate IV in Engineering – Instrumentation and Certificate II in Electronic Assembly.
North Regional TAFE Managing Director Kevin Doig said the new facility meant young apprentices studying industrial electrical and instrumentation no longer need to travel to Perth to study.
“This training is great for both students and employers. We acknowledge and thank Woodside for their support in the establishment of this new training centre,” Mr Doig said.
The specialised training centre also has the potential to attract students from around the country to come and live and work in the oil and gas epi-centre of Australia.
The Electrical Instrumentation Centre of Specialisation was funded by the State Government through the Pilbara Development Commission and Department of Training and Workforce Development, and the Woodside-operated North West Shelf Project and Pluto LNG.
Newman celebrated the opening of The Square next with a weekend of music, stage shows, movies, markets and food starting on Friday, 28 July.
The Square, located in the heart of Newman, will become a cultural and economic hub for the community including a commercial kitchen, multi-function space, outdoor media screen, business incubator modules, public art and water feature.
Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said an active and vibrant town centre would attract new business and make Newman an even better place to live and do business.
“We’re actively working with the Shire of East Pilbara to ensure the town square delivers long term economic benefits for the people who live and work in Newman,” Mr Hill said.
“Programs to activate the new public space through community events, and by attracting new business activity and investment to the town centre, will see it become a hive of activity from day one.”
The Town Square builds on work already completed as part of the Newman Town Centre Revitalisation project, which included the development of a new east/west entry, realignment of roads, upgraded power and wastewater services, landscaping, new car parks and an improved pedestrian and bike network.
The Town Centre Revitalisation project is being delivered by LandCorp on behalf of the Shire of East Pilbara, and is supported by the Pilbara Development Commission through Royalties for Regions.
For more information about The Square opening visit the Shire of East Pilbara website.
Pilbara Development Commission Director Economic Development, Land and Infrastructure Chris Le Serve, fronted a 300-strong crowd in Perth on 20 June to deliver a presentation on the transformational opportunities that will help secure the Pilbara’s future economic prosperity.
The presentation drew comparisons between the Pilbara and the Finish city of Vaasa, which is leveraging its proximity to Europe’s largest lithium deposit to attract a Tesla Gigafactory.
“The purpose of the presentation was to put the Pilbara on the map and get people thinking about the transformational role our region should play in meeting future global energy demand,” Mr Le Serve said.
“Vaasa’s proposal has attracted wide support and I think we have a lot to learn from this entrepreneurial approach to attracting investment to the Pilbara.
“It was a bold comparison, but it really got people thinking about what’s possible for our region. Potential gigawatt-scale renewable energy projects are already being discussed in the region to capitalise on the Pilbara’s solar resources, proximity to Asia and high quality export infrastructure. If any one of these projects materialises, the economic benefits will be substantial.”
The presentation highlighted the case study of American car maker, energy storage company and solar panel manufacturer, Tesla Inc. which is expected to announce up to four new Gigafactory locations this year to meet projected demand for its car and energy products.
The Office of Economic Development in Nevada, US, where Tesla’s first Gigafactory commenced production earlier this year, estimated the factory would result in 6,500 direct operational jobs and an additional 16,200 indirect jobs, with a total annual economic impact of $USD 5.4 billion.
“The Pilbara has some of the world’s largest lithium deposits on its doorstep, so it’s important we explore the supply-chain possibilities of value-adding to the mineral extraction process by manufacturing the end-product,” Mr Le Serve said.
“The Commission will continue to be a strong advocate for economic growth in the Pilbara by positioning the region as an attractive location for renewable energy projects.”
The 8th Annual WA Major Projects Conference provides a platform for discussion about WA’s new and future projects. The conference also included presentations from Deloitte Access Economics, Curtin University School of Built Environment and the Outback Highway Development Council.
Originally from Tasmania, Principal Project Officer Jenna Dodge moved to Port Hedland eight years ago, accepting a role with the Pilbara Development Commission.
Landing in the Pilbara, Jenna’s original plan to live in Port Hedland for one year was quickly forgotten as she became immersed in the unique north west lifestyle.
“The Pilbara has a way of getting under your skin. The people, the lifestyle, the landscape; it quickly became home for me,” Ms Dodge said.
Now leading the Commission’s arts and culture portfolio, Jenna is driven by the opportunity to create meaningful employment and business opportunities in the creative and cultural sector.
“Working at the Commission, you really feel like you’re making a genuine difference to the community, and to the future of the region,” Ms Dodge said.
“Every day at work is different, one day I’m managing a multi-million dollar infrastructure project, then next I’m spending time on country learning about culture with traditional owners.”
As the arts and culture scene in the Pilbara continues to grow in size and national significance, new opportunities are emerging to preserve and protect culture.
“Art comes in all shapes and sizes. The diversity of Aboriginal art that exists in our region alone creates opportunities for Aboriginal people to combine their passion and knowledge for country with a meaningful and fulfilling job.”
Managing a large number of projects throughout her eight year’s at the Commission, Jenna reflects on those that have has the most significant impact, and the one that stands out is the East Pilbara Arts Centre.
“The collaboration between the project partners was really strong and set the foundation for a successful project. Collectively we challenged the norm for project development and from start to finish we ensured that Martu people were at the centre of all decisions.”
Jenna’s passion for travel, sport and all things water, keep her busy and active in the Port Hedland community. When she’s not at the West End markets, or adding to her art collection at the Courthouse Gallery, you’ll find Jenna by the coast catching up with friends that become family.