Richness is in the stories

“We need to find new ways of doing things.”

That was the message made clear when Sydney philosopher Dr Mark Strom came to USQ Fraser Coast.

“The richness is in the stories,” Dr Strom said after wrapping up a workshop on May 23, attended by nine regional people dedicated to finding the keys that will boost regional development through teamwork.

“In anything like this, it’s tempting to say ‘Here’s the program, this has been done in five other countries in the world, just apply this program and that will bring about all the changes you need’.

“However, that approach tends to alienate people and ignores the fact there is already brilliance on the Fraser Coast.

“What I mean by brilliance is not IQ but the ability for people to shine. There are already great stories, not just the wonderful stories you hear when there’s a flood and people pull together in extraordinary ways, but even in the times without crisis.

“There is always a school somewhere where teachers are knocking themselves out doing some great things with the kids, or a health service with someone doing an amazing job of taking care of people who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

“The richness that gives you the insights on how to bring about deep, lasting change is in the stories that you’d otherwise ignore, the stories of everyday brilliance.”

Fraser Coast Councillor Robert Garland said the workshop gave him a refreshing view of the world and greater insight into what regional development meant.

“It means different things to different people. For one person it might be he simply wants a job for his son, for another it could be she wants a $150,000 per year job.

“We need to look at their stories and see what’s different, to put everything into perspective, look at the successes and build on them, and to take centres of excellence and build around them.

“But rather than tackle a ‘dinosaur’, we want to break it down to the five top things that might stimulate development and look at the mechanics to get that happening.”

Dr Strom led the workshop at the invitation of USQ Fraser Coast’s Associate Professor Paul Collits (Research Director, Economic Development and Enterprise Collaboration) and researcher Dr Robert Mangoyana.

They believe the secret to the Fraser Coast’s fiscal success is the collaboration of its myriad economic development groups and bringing together of resources. The challenge is inspiring people to collaborate outside their traditional silos.

“The Holy Grail of regional development is ‘How do you encourage collaboration between people?’ It’s a difficult thing anywhere not just the Fraser Coast,” Dr Strom said.

“On Friday we looked for different approaches to regional development, given that traditional project models so often don’t work.

“I have seen this time and again in all kinds of industries and projects where there are complex social contexts, yet people continue to apply cookie cutter approaches that don’t work. Here we have a group of people who want to do better than that.

“Whether I’m working with governments, corporations or groups like this, all my work is about opening up conversations: first, about the ways of thinking and acting we’ve inherited that stop us working together well; and then about developing more natural, more human, and more effective ways of working.

“Fundamentally it’s about what it means to be wise and what it means to live well together.

“When you start there and encourage those conversations, all the management jargon evaporates. We see the patterns that shape our lives and discover the kinds of dialogue together where we create new meaning.

“Influence and change come down to relationships – you can’t have more influence than your relationships will bear.”

For a brief CV and more information about Dr Strom, log on to,, or


CAPTION: Dr Mark Strom leads a workshop on economic development at USQ Fraser Coast on May 23, 2013. Pictured are (l-r) Abbie Grant-Taylor, Megan Smith, Tracy Hetherton, Kerry Fullarton, Nathan Spruce, Dr Mark Strom, Nigel Hill, USQ Fraser Coast Associate Professor Paul Collits, Fraser Coast Councillor Robert Garland and USQ Researcher Dr Robert Mangoyana. PHOTO: Jocelyn Watts

New life for Federal pub

The recent sale of Maryborough’s historic Federal Hotel is positive sign of things to come for the Fraser Coast region, says Division Four Councillor Daniel Sanderson

“There is growing confidence in the city, which is reflected by the number of recent property sales, development applications and enquiries,” he said.

“Owning and running your own business is a big operation and I know the locals will make the new owners of the Federal Hotel feel welcome and appreciated.”

The Federal Hotel was built in 1884 and retains much of its historic charm.

The Federal also enjoyed some notoriety in the 1950s when a dead man was discovered on the premises. Police at the time discovered a cache of 80,000 pounds in cash under the body. The money was never claimed nor the mystery solved.

History buffs can find out more about the region’s rich history by following the Fraser Coast Historic Pub Trail

Cr Sanderson said the ongoing success of Maryborough’s many pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops was a key focus of the council’s Imagine this City visioning program.

“Imagine this City is chance for residents to help shape Maryborough’s future,” he said.

“We are looking at ways of shaping a vibrant, sophisticated and prosperous CBD for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.”

The council is preparing to hold a series of place-based forums to discuss visions for particular localities.

“This is a great opportunity to rethink how we do things, identify the key projects and initiatives to reshape our future and work towards implementation.

“Our aim is to start rolling out some of the initiatives in 2014 and turn these visions into reality.

“I really think this process is vital to ensure a viable long-term future for the Maryborough CBD.”


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Aldridge high wins back-to-back titles

By Jocelyn Watts

Aldridge State High School has won this year’s USQ Fraser Coast Science and Engineering Challenge regional title for the second consecutive year.

The team of Years 9 and 10 students clocked up 1164 points throughout the day to edge out Xavier Catholic College (1083) and Fraser Coast Anglican College (942) for the chance to compete at the Super Challenge Series in Townsville later this year.

Aldridge’s head of Science Department Iain Carson said he was thrilled this year’s students had continued the school’s winning streak of three out of four years (2010, 2012 and 2013).

“Congratulations to all our students and thank you to everyone who participated.”

In the bridge-building section, Aldridge State High School team of Natasha Donnelly, Jessica Karrasch and Rahni Smoother took out first place, narrowly beating the efforts of the community team – USQ Fraser Coast’s campus executive manager Brett Langabeer, Robert MacGibbon from Engineers Australia, Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell and Rotary exchange student Emma Hansen from Denmark – whose bridge would have won had it been just four grams lighter.

USQ Fraser Coast event co-ordinator Stephanie Bayley said “This year’s regional challenge was a fantastic event. It was great to get feedback from volunteers that our students were enthusiastic and focused on their tasks.”

The day started early with volunteers from the combined Rotary clubs of Hervey Bay helping USQ Fraser Coast and University of Newcastle staff to set up.  At 9.30am everything was ready for the students to arrive.

Mr Langabeer and Ms Bayley thanked all those involved in the challenge, in particular the University of Newcastle and the combined Rotary Clubs of Hervey Bay.

The challenge is recognized, both at home and abroad, as an innovative way of raising young people’s awareness of the career opportunities in science and engineering. In 2003 the challenge was awarded The Sir William Hudson Award for Engineering Excellence and it has since been recognised by the International Institute of Physics based in London.

Aldridge State High School has secured a prestigious prize indeed.

2013 Science & Engineering Challenge

St Mary’s Catholic College students Dannielle Tarlinton (left), Annie Tanwan, Elara Crook and Caitlin Fergus build their bridge.


Robert MacGibbon from Engineers Australia, USQ Fraser Coast’s campus executive manager Brett Langabeer and (back to camera) Rotary exchange student Emma Hansen from Denmark and Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell work on their bridge.


Xavier Catholic College students watch nerviously as their bridge is tested.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and supported locally by Engineers Australia, Tony McVey Pty Ltd, Wide Bay Water, Fraser Coast Regional Council, and Opus.


Hervey Bay High School students Kaitlyn Bates (left), Monica Boulton and Louise Court on the Electra City activity. Photos: JOCELYN WATTS