The remoteness of Roxby Downs, a small South Australian mining town supporting our Olympic Dam operation, creates many challenges for families. One in particular is access to education and learning opportunities.
Often, locals are faced with sending their children to boarding school or moving to a larger town to achieve the education and career outcomes they aspire to. This in turn creates attraction and retention issues for BHP and potential impacts on the outcomes of local educational providers, students and families.
In response to this challenge, BHP introduced the Mining Minds program in Roxby Downs. Through the program, Olympic Dam is increasing the likelihood that families will remain in the local area and positively contribute to the liveability of Roxby Downs.
Now in its third year, Mining Minds continues to take a whole of community approach to address and deliver positive outcomes. Informed and governed by a reference group comprised of local education leaders, community members and Council representatives, it combines best practice education research with extensive community consultation to ensure initiatives and outcomes are purposeful and relevant.
The benefits of the program are far reaching. Focused on the early years of a child’s development through to adult education, Mining Minds has provided opportunities for over 1,000 students, 120 families and spans across four schools, three childcare centres, two kindergartens and various vocational education providers delivering diploma or degree qualifications.
To support the program and the community of Roxby Downs, four key initiatives were developed:
- Educator development. A professional development and leadership training program for local teachers and
educators to bolster local capacity and improve education outcomes.
- Student learning and wellbeing. An integrated wellbeing and learning program designed to increase student wellbeing and learning outcomes, with a focus on promoting existing good practice for locally initiated projects.
- Parent partnership. A project supporting parents to develop their own learning pathway, become advocates for their children’s education and actively partner with teachers in improving the learning environment of their children.
- Community hub. A shopfront information and training facility that supports all Mining Minds programs in a central location, allowing greater participation and collaboration.
The success of Mining Minds is underpinned by a consultative approach employed at all stages of the project – development, design, and all the way through to implementation. It is this approach that has contributed to creating a sustainable project which is enhancing educational outcomes locally, building capacity and increasing awareness and importance of the value of education within the community.