Ocean Road Primary School principal Dean Finlay found himself behind bars while touring the Pilbara as part of Perth-based not-for-profit Leadership WA’s Signature Leadership Program.
However, it is not what you may think.
Mr Finlay was one of the 32 West Australian executives and leaders to go on a trip through the Pilbara in May to visit the region’s landmarks, including Roebourne Regional Prison, and learn about the local history.
The tour included a visit to the Burrup cultural site, Roebourne Regional Prison, Pilbara ports, Cossack and various mining operation sites to gain a better understanding the region’s past and its contribution to the national economy.
“Leadership WA’s participants are often based in Perth, so visiting the Pilbara represents an opportunity to connect the impact and influence of the region and the challenges it faces to the broader context of Western Australia,” Leadership WA chief Robin McClellan said.
Mr Finlay, who spent 15 years in the Pilbara, said going back to the region was like going back home.
He also said seeing the region through the eyes of early settlers and learning about the struggles both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal faced in the early years while visiting Cossack was a great experience.
“After visiting Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Corporation Roebourne, listening to the elders talking passionately about their generational ties to their country, I have a deeper awareness,” he said.
“There were lot of agencies taken out of Roeburn and put into Karratha without realising the strong connection to the land for the local people.”
He said the trip made him realise of the importance of having sense of belonging, which he would be taking into consideration when being back at the school principal chair.
“At a school level, making sure my staff have a feeling of belonging, we have a diverse student population and it’s essential that both staff and students feel valued and valuable to the school,” he said.
The Signature Leadership Program will also be touring the south west later in the year.
Leadership WA is now assessing applications for its Signature Leadership Program in 2018.