A CORNERSTONE OF THE COMMUNITY
In the same way that the impact of Kestrel’s coal elevates developing markets around the world, the company places explicit emphasis on supporting and unleashing the full potential of its surrounding communities.
A business that both lives and buys local, Kestrel has been a mainstay of the Central Highlands community for over 30 years. Indeed, 67 percent of its full-time workforce consists of local employees, many of whom reside in nearby Emerald.
Consequently, Kestrel takes pride in its commitment to positively contributing to the region in myriad ways and upholds this value as a key point of difference. The careful consideration of its impact on the wider community remains at the forefront of every single decision that Kestrel makes, as a true partner in local development.
“The passion and the commitment that the Kestrel team has not only for the company but for the regions we operate in is second to none,” states Cavill.
On the understanding that community equates to connectivity, Kestrel’s level of investment is not just economic – rather, by building relationships and creating opportunities for growth, it creates an avenue for lasting connections.
As a largely residential-based entity, income is fed back into local businesses, schools, not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) and other community bodies or initiatives of all sizes surrounding the mine. This not only strengthens Kestrel’s connectedness with nearby communities, but also reinforces the internal cohesiveness of its culture.
“We maintain a heavy focus on supporting local businesses, as it’s always been,” echoes Hansen.
As reported in its latest Sustainability Report, in 2022 this equated to AUD$122,000 invested in direct community support.
Kestrel’s dedicated community approach centres on the four pillars of community partnerships, keeping communities safe, cultural heritage, and indigenous development. True to Kestrel’s own one-team ethos, respect is the common ground on which all these concepts are founded.
“Our relationship with the township is a testament to the mutual support and respect we’ve cultivated, and we are motivated to contribute positively to create a lasting legacy,” Hansen surmises.
RESPECTING CULTURAL HERITAGE
The legacy that Hansen alludes to centres on creating opportunities for sustainable local development. This means providing jobs and supporting the local economy, but also focusing on healthy environmental management and promoting social programmes and initiatives that will benefit the community for generations to come.
However, this also involves respecting the cultural legacy that predates the mine. In this regard, Kestrel works closely with the registered Native Title Claimants of the land on which it operates – the Western Kangoulu. As the Traditional Land Owners, the landscape surrounding Emerald and the Kestrel mine is intrinsically linked to the history of Indigenous people, and these deep connections are acknowledged, honoured, and considered in every decision.
This respect for cultural heritage informs Kestrel’s approach to community relations, but it also impacts environmental management in a physical sense. Paying respect to Australia’s Indigenous people and Elders past, present and future, Kestrel positions itself as a partner working in the best interests of protecting the land’s heritage.
The 17,000 hectares (ha) of land that Kestrel occupies is rich with stone artefacts, resources, shelters and cultural areas, quarries, and scarred trees. There are over 80 of the latter spread across the Kestrel site, with each tree indicating a poignant historical reminder of where Aboriginal Australians would have stripped bark to be used for toolmaking amongst other purposes.
To ensure that Kestrel continues to work in alignment with the aspirations of the Western Kangoulu and honour their connection to the land, a Cultural Heritage Investigation and Management Agreement (CHIMA) exists between both parties.
“We have continued developing a strong partnering approach with our Traditional Land Owners, the Western Kangoulu,” comments Hansen.
The CHIMA entails the contribution of technical advisors who undertake stringent data-led assessments that aim to deliver proactive outcomes for heritage. As part of this work, over the course of 2022, Kestrel directed AUD$650,000 into cultural heritage investment, surveying over 270ha of land for cultural significance.
RESPECT, INSPIRE, DEVELOP
Working in partnership with both the Western Kangoulu and the wider Emerald community, Kestrel actively promotes Indigenous development. This is reflected by the creation of an Indigenous development hub, where guidance is provided on different career choices and ways of life for the Indigenous community.
Operating under the mantra of ‘Make it Real – Respect, Inspire, Develop’, the hub aims to increase local employment levels and enhance training development and procurement opportunities both across the community and within the company itself.
The ‘Make it Real’ strategy consists of a pillared approach, whereby the company aims first to grow its presence and connection throughout Emerald, then provide structured opportunities within the company, followed by on-country opportunities, and finally by offering further opportunities in education and culture.
As another example of Indigenous development in practice, last year, Kestrel launched the CONNECT programme in partnership with the Western Kangoulu. With both parties collaborating throughout its development and delivery, CONNECT has been designed to provide all members of the Kestrel workforce with a thorough understanding of their responsibilities towards cultural heritage. That same year, Kestrel also deployed a series of school-based workshops to enhance local education on the same topic.
Another prime demonstration of Kestrel’s commitment to development and education is the company’s internal UNLEASHED programme. As a scheme that has been designed for Kestrel, by Kestrel, UNLEASHED is a leadership scheme that aims to unlock even more strength within the company’s operations by investing in the potential of its own people.
The programme takes place over 12 months and is a comprehensive course in leadership capabilities. Through various modules, the programme covers nine key objectives, ranging from the concept of ‘Unleashing One Kestrel’ to ‘Safety, Everyday’. Throughout, participants are encouraged to lead from the front, providing both feedback and constructive ‘feedforward’, all while nurturing a psychologically safe workplace.
UNLEASHED channels the idea that a leader’s job is to bring out the best in other people, and arms participants with the skills that enable them to do so – both in the workplace and within their personal lives.
Over the course of 2022, 220 employees – almost a third of the entire workforce – participated in the UNLEASHED programme and the results continue to exceed expectations. This is reflected by an average uplift of 19 percent recorded across all diagnostic competencies.
The programme is an effective way of perpetuating the continuity of Kestrel’s distinctive culture as an above the line differentiator, with the company being built on a foundation of trust and respect, where open and honest conversations are always encouraged.