BHP celebrates Mt Arthur Coal's valuable partnerships with Muswellbrook organisations

Community 'connection' welcomed

BHP took the opportunity to acknowledge its "local" community connection at the Muswellbrook Race Club this week.

And, one of the driving forces behind improving literacy in the region was among a host of organisations that was showcased at the annual celebration of Mt Arthur Coal's partnerships.

More than 50 partners, which actively contribute to building stronger and more vibrant communities across the Upper Hunter, were commemorated at the event.

A number of groups also shared the success of their programs, including Upper Hunter Community Services (UHCS) and its recently-launched Healthy Minds Upper Hunter app.

Attendees heard that in excess of 2200 books had been delivered to local schools this year via the organisation's Books in Homes initiative, too.

Mt Arthur Coal general manager Adam Lancey, who stepped into the role on November 15, said all of the initiatives delivered by BHP's partners addressed community needs, and delivered real outcomes in the areas of education, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health and wellbeing.

"BHP cares about the communities we work and live in, which is why we set-up partnerships with community organisations," he explained.

"We support a variety of local programs and initiatives at a grassroots level - which are undertaken by a range of groups - as part of our commitment to build lasting relationships that benefit people who live and work in the area."

Youngsters at the Denman Children's Centre, a recipient of books through Books in Homes, have experienced these benefits.

"Books in Homes has created so much excitement among the children and families at our pre-school," director Nicole McKenzie said.

"The feelings evoked in the children form the core values necessary for a love of literacy from birth onwards."

Mr Lancey echoed those sentiments on behalf of the company.

"We are proud of these partnerships and recognise these community programs wouldn't exist without the hard work and dedication of our wonderful community partners like Denman's Children's Centre," he said.

"Our sincerest thanks are extended for delivering programs of such high quality for the benefit of people in Muswellbrook and surrounding communities."

The evening was funded through BHP's Local Buying Program - a procurement portal which allows small businesses operating in the Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter Shires to provide goods and services to BHP's Mt Arthur Coal operation.

Attendees were given an update on BHP's Local Voices initiative which began this year, and provides an opportunity for community members to express their views about and experiences with Mt Arthur Coal, through a confidential monthly survey managed by the CSIRO.

Approximately 200 community members from the Hunter Valley participated in the anchor survey.

A key insight from the data is that residents in the Upper Hunter were quite positive about the benefits that BHP's social investment programs deliver for their towns.

Mr Lancey acknowledged the positive survey results while noting there is always more than can be done to build strong relationships within the local community.

"We are very thankful for the time people took to be involved in Local Voices," he added.

"We look forward to using the research data to inform our community engagement and help us continually improve our business, in a way that contributes positively to society."

The evening was enjoyed by local representatives from various organisations including Upper Hunter Community Services, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW, Graham "Polly" Farmer Foundation, Books in Homes, Muswellbrook PCYC, Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singleton Business Chamber, Aberdeen Highland Games, Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council, Muswellbrook Race Club, Life Education NSW as well as local schools and pre-schools.