Future Work, Future Communities Adelaide Workshop | 2023

The project Future Work, Future Communities was established to bring together cutting-edge thinking and research on changes in industry and employment with the insights and experience of those working in government and industry. As an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project, collaboration and sharing our findings with external partners were built into the DNA of our work together.

The July 4 workshop in Adelaide gave the research team an opportunity to provide industry and government with insight into our findings to date and receive their feedback on our results and the questions which remain foremost in their minds. 

There can be no doubt the closure of Australia’s automotive industry was a major development in the nation’s economic history. It represented the ending of a long-term policy ambition for national and state governments, and it had profound impacts on those working in the sector, the communities which hosted these factories, and other parts of the economy.

One of the most valuable elements of research-related workshops is the interaction between all the speakers, the industry representatives, academics from other disciplines and those who have supported the research in a professional capacity. This workshop benefited from exchanges that were made richer by the diversity of those who participated, including visitors from Finland and the UK; government officers from Canberra and Adelaide; those working in the not-for-profit sector; local government officials; and, academics from other universities here in Australia. This mix of individuals and interests resulted in rich and varied discussions, all of which made for a more productive and enjoyable event.

In closing, I would like to thank the staff who worked so tirelessly over many months to bring this workshop to life. First, I would like to thank Ms Josefina Atienza for her very capable oversight of this component of FWFC and her ‘hands on’ approach to delivering success.  Second, I thank Mr Jacob Irving and Ms Sandy Horne for their very valuable contributions in the months leading up to this event, and on the day. Finally, I acknowledge the work of two postdoctoral fellows – Dr Helen Dinmore and Dr Lynette Washington, both of whom were central to our success on the day.

Professor Andrew Beer
Lead Investigator
Executive Dean, UniSA Business

A week of research

The Adelaide workshop took centre-stage in what was a busy week of activity for the Future Work, Future Communities project. The day prior to the workshop itself, our international guests – Sally Hardy Regional Studies Association (RSA), David Bailey University of Birmingham, Markku Sotarauta Tampere University took part in a tour of the Stretton Centre and Lionsgate Business Park (pictured below) in the City of Playford. The visit was made possible courtesy of Tom Madigan Stretton Centre, Greg Pattinson and Jennes Walker City of Playford, and Paschal Sommers Lionsgate Business Park. Having our international guests engage with local business foundations in a restructured Northern Adelaide assists the ongoing need for the region to build networks and value chains both locally and abroad.

The workshop culminated in a two-day closed session with chief investigators to develop a high impact roadmap as the project draws to a close. The team is revving up to develop further top tier publications, networking events and future spin-off and collaborative projects. This road map is steering us to an exciting path which we are keen to share in the coming year.

Greg Pattinson; Markku Sotarauta; Tom Madigan; Sally Hardy; Jennes Walker at the Stretton Centre

“It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the Stretton Centre and the Sussex Innovation Centre in which the RSA office is based. I very much liked the Stretton Centre infrastructure and more than that, I was impressed by the managers’ knowledge about the organisations in the Centre and their thinking about how the Centre could support local growth and innovation. I’m a fan of innovation hubs in general and I thought that the Stretton Centre was a strong example of good practice.” – Sally Hardy on the Stretton Centre

Greg Pattinson; Markku Sotarauta; Dave Lander at the Lionsgate Business Park

“Visiting Lionsgate Business Park was a real eye-opener. It was great to see life being breathed back into manufacturing at the site. The range of manufacturing growing there was hugely impressive, ranging from innovative food and drink, through sustainable energy storage to cutting-edge defence work. There is a real shortage of such space for manufacturing in parts of the UK and seeing the ex-Holden site used so positively in this way gave me something to think about now I’m back home. I hope to get the chance to visit again and see how business park develops further” – David Bailey on the Lionsgate Business Park

The Adelaide Workshop | 4 July

The Adelaide Workshop marked an important milestone in our research. It gave us the platform to share our findings with key academics, policy makers and stakeholders from various disciplines. A key highlight of the event was the lively discourse amongst all three tiers of government, and international and local experts on industry restructuring and what the future holds for our local communities impacted by ongoing economic change.

Around 30 representatives from the City of Playford, the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government, SACOSS, Wellbeing SA, Flinders University, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, the University of Birmingham, Tampere University and the Regional Studies Association (UK) graced the occasion. Their presence was invaluable in the panel discussions, and as part of the engaging exchange of ideas which capped an already fulsome day of reflection and forward thinking. Their inputs were taken onboard as we enter into the final stages of our five-year project.

An engaging panel discussion chaired by Ross Womersley with discussants Markku Sotarauta; Mark Semmens; Susan Stone (left to right)
Lynette Washington presenting on gender, leadership and regions in transition

A special thank you to the speakers, organisers, sponsors, and participants for their significant contributions in making the workshop a success.

Participants said they appreciated the valuable knowledge, fascinating perspectives and meaningful connections that they gained from the event, inspiring them to apply new insights and lessons into their personal and professional lives.

The workshop featured seven presentations interspersed with expert panel discussions. The presentations all spoke to the Future Work, Future Communities research agenda of understanding worker and community capacities to navigate economic landscapes in the face of and the fallout from industry restructuring. The presentations were importantly solution-focussed with renowned speakers and industry experts sharing their perspectives and insights on Australia’s automotive transition as well as learnings from international experiences of restructuring in the UK and Finland.

To access the workshop presentations and abstracts, please click on the relevant links below. Please also see the Future Work, Future Communities Adelaide Workshop Program for a summary of the day’s key activities with a short biography of the panel chairs and discussants.

Presentations and proceedings

Photos from the Adelaide Workshop

Foremost, we extend our sincerest thanks to the automotive workers who have given their time to this research and supported our vision to bring about informed policy for Australia. This important work is only possible with your support, and we are truly indebted.

To our partners, we are grateful for the opportunities you have given us to provide robust contributions to impactful policy and leading-edge academic debate. Your engagement is invaluable to our work.

For more details about the workshop or project, please do not hesitate to contact us using the form at the bottom of this page or directly via email at [email protected].

All photo credits go to Sandy Horne.