Happy 15th birthday Turnstone Projects

Starting Turnstone Projects in September 2003 was a proud moment. I have been to unforgettable places and had the privilege to meet and work with generous people who welcomed me to their community.  I have loved making connections, learning and giving back.

Every project has had a common element, a shared interest for change.  To help, an asset-based approach is often used, working to the strengths of the people and the place.  It also means that those people where the work is focussed or based, are the ones who have the skills and resources to continue to implement and evolve the project.

While the individual assignments have differed in their location, industry and participants, the central themes stay the same: learning and employment; capacity building; enterprise development.

I have rolled out my swag to get the job done, had meetings indoors and out – anywhere to reach the community – and clocked up a lot of kilometres across Australia.  I have worked with and been encouraged by some colourful, courageous and thoughtful people. The opportunity to create an inclusive Indigenous employment program with very few boundaries early on in my consulting time was quite an immersion.  Ten years on, collaboration continues.  Other early projects like the Business of Saving Water, a partnership with governments, the community and philanthropy demonstrated the importance of building a collective and systematic approach for complex issues.

Having the support of close colleagues, friends and mentors has been very important as have the diverse and dispersed networks built along the way.  Presenting and sharing my work, opening it up for evaluation and working with others through Philanthropy Australia and with Sandy Daff and Dr Cecil Pearson, has also taught me much.

The unexpected bonus to have my two sons on-the-ground during various projects from Arnhem Land to Blackall has enriched their lives and my understanding. 


Highlights are of course the most challenging projects where, after many years, long term change has been realised.  It has also been when the lessons learnt have been able to be documented and shared, enabling others to adopt and use the methodology.

As to what’s next, it’s collaboration for me.  There will be a renewed focus to see Discovery, our simple yet transformative selection and employment tool, move beyond the Northern Territory.

Also, Let’s Get Talking, our hands-on digital storytelling project for community groups and the opportunity to work with Kirstie Davison of Mariki Media of Blackall in Central Queensland.

As I was when I started out, I am excited about how the work I do has the potential to enrich communities.  Deliberately and increasingly, my approach is more aligned to a social enterprise to support, encourage, learn and contribute.





  1. Jane SandilandsReply

    Congratulations and happy birthday, Turnstone Projects! Some great projects completed, more yet to come. And so good to see community and knowledge sharing between city and country and such an inclusive approach to challenges.

  2. Sandra DaffReply

    Well done Rebecca. 15 years of well researched, transparent community consultations with clients and community stakeholders. Turnstone Projects has created new initiatives in employment, training and business within a diverse range of areas of Australia. It has been my honour to have worked with you on several of these projects, witnessing the personal commitment you give to communities, leading them through the planning, design and implementation of a unique new projects. It never ceases to amaze me the energy and commitment you give to recording every detail from planning through to post implementation, essential details to enable growth and continuous improvement for the project. Enabling young and old people great personal satisfaction by your provision of photographic or video records through the participation and development of their project. ‘A picture tells a thousand words’ is all too true, but even more amazing when these special people are given a voice. Wishing you every success for many more years to come.

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