The report

The Leigh Creek Futures report, released on 6 June 2016, has made 30 recommendations to the State Government to maintain and revitalise the township.

Download the Leigh Creek Futures report now.

The report was prepared based on the proposals received in response to the Request for Information – Commercial Opportunities, Leigh Creek and surrounds, in addition to prior and subsequent consultation and investigations overseen by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith.

Through the RFI, the State Government received more than 30 responses from people and organisations interested in ensuring a viable future for Leigh Creek. The ideas submitted include a range of proposals for commercial and industrial use of the mine site, use of the area’s natural mineral and renewable energy resources, as well as proposals to use the town’s existing infrastructure for commercial developments including education, training, tourism and arts.

Report recommendations

Leigh Creek open for business

Recommendation Status
1 A regional service town model would be better positioned to adapt and develop into the future as an open town, with housing made available to rental tenancies on transition and consideration given to eventual sale of residential units for occupation or transportation. In progress
2 The process of opening the town is transitioned over a 12 month period from the date of government takeover. Ongoing
3 SATC and DPTI collaborate to design a suite of upgraded signage for installation at the gateway to Leigh Creek and surrounding Townships in the Northern Flinders Ranges and Outback Region. Achieved
4 An assessment is undertaken of potential design improvements to the physical configuration, building entry points, place finding and legibility of Township infrastructure, in particular the Tavern. Under consideration
5 Government consults generally and seeks advice from ATLA on renaming the Township infrastructure and amenities, including the airport. Under consideration
6 All tenders or new management of businesses and services in the Township include a requirement that practices be adopted to signal the town is ‘Open for Business’ with websites established, new signage, and openness to increased tourist visitation. Achieved
7 Government considers funding for a position dedicated to the Northern Flinders Ranges region to coordinate and seek funding for art, culture, sport and recreational activities and promote Leigh Creek and surrounding communities as a key location for regional programming and events. Under consideration
8 Renewal SA or an appropriate agency, with the support of DPTI, SATC and RDAFN prepares an EOI to result in a lease, management agreement or purchase of the Tavern and Motel facility at the earliest opportunity. Achieved
9 Existing commercial tenancies should be rolled over for an interim period and new tenancies offered at realistic rental rates that are not prohibitive to the provision of vital services. Achieved
10 Government considers Leigh Creek as a potential Wi-Fi hotspot location and opportunities with the NBN. Achieved
11 OCA gives immediate consideration to the RFI Proposal regarding waste management services. Achieved
12 OCA considers options for management of the airport including suitability of RFI proponents and in consideration of further commercial potential. Achieved
13 DSD and SATC nominate a representative to explore the potential for engagement of a private airline and furthering flight training and related tourism opportunities at Leigh Creek. Achieved


Building social capacity

Recommendation Status
14 Government services be maintained but not expanded at this time. Achieved
15 The current focus on expediting all proposals related to Leigh Creek and surrounds continue to ensure any viable projects are not delayed. Achieved
16 DECD examines the regional need for early childhood education and care particularly for Aboriginal children and the options available at the Kindergarten school site to better support care provision and employment in the region. Under Consideration
17 Government negotiates with Alinta for a co-contribution to a social development fund to continue support of local community initiatives and broader programs such as that operated by Zoos SA at the Aroona Sanctuary. Achieved
18 A community management structure is established that ensures Adnyamathanha representation and local and surrounding community involvement in the Leigh Creek Township. Under consideration
19 Government sets a review date to assess the transition process, town governance and all unsolicited bid proposals related to Leigh Creek of no later than July 2018. Achieved
20 In consultation with ATLA, explore the potential for housing management opportunities. In progress
21 Any new leasing arrangements for businesses in Leigh Creek include the government procurement standard of 15% of Aboriginal employment. In progress
22 ATLA considers developing commercial proposals for management of key services in Leigh Creek. In progress


Revitalising Leigh Creek

Recommendation Status
23 SATC investigates opportunities to Own the Outback by changing the Airport name and linking it with international gateway airports to connect local Aboriginal, pastoral, and fossil tourism operators with international inbound flights. In progress
24 DSD and Renewables SA advise on the potential for renewable energy projects and storage schemes that are visible and may produce long term benefit to regional areas, with consideration given to Leigh Creek as a potential new technology trial site. Under consideration
25 The SATC should continue to develop a trail of aboriginal cultural products with Leigh Creek serving as a Hub to encourage travellers to explore locations locally and into the Northern Territory. Under Consideration
26 Work progress to develop an application for World Heritage Listing as a medium to long-term strategy to protect and conserve the fossil sites and increase visitation to the Northern Flinders Ranges and Outback Region. In progress
27 Additional support should be offered to SAFC to promote regional film making in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Region through a focussed economic transition grant program for three years. Under consideration
28 DECD continues to work with DSD to determine areas of local employment demand and cultivate opportunities for school based apprenticeships and pathways to employment locally, with a particular focus on Aboriginal students. In progress
29 A government committee with representation from the SA Museum, History SA, SATC, DEWNR, DECD, DPTI and DSD is established to co-ordinate a project plan and business case for the creation of an education base in Leigh Creek with lead agencies identified to undertake the following:

  1. An asset assessment on the potential for repurposing existing infrastructure at the school for secure fossil storage and preparation, classroom space for university field trips, research and school visits, and special interest tourism groups;
  2. Planning for an unstaffed Orientation Hub in the Leigh Creek Township hosting a range of static displays including technological enhancements depicting the geology, palaeontology, biodiversity and Aboriginal culture of the region;
  3. Examine the potential for development of school camp facilities and program including sale of housing for use by schools and families.
In progress
30 Government considers funding a position to work with OCA, the RDAFN and Local Government to focus on marketing and commercial opportunities to support innovative town infrastructure usage and assist with planning and recruitment for the Education base concept. Under consideration


Request for information

The Request for Information (RFI) process aimed to inform the Government of opportunities to maintain a sustainable town into the future, and will contribute to economic and social plans for the region.

The Department of State Development (DSD) sought concepts and options from prospective individuals, businesses and groups to invest in facilities, products and/or services to support and enhance the region. The amenities may be suitable for sole or multiple users to provide viable business opportunities for interested entrepreneurs willing to be involved in the re-imagining of this well-equipped and remote township.

DSD particularly welcomed the participation of Aboriginal businesses and community groups.

The RFI provided the opportunity for existing businesses and individuals (including previous and current Alinta employees) to express interest in continuing to operate in the town into the future. The Government was keenly interested in hearing from parties who had any ideas or information for current investment in the region.

Views from the community

The South Australian Government established the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Community Engagement Team following the announcement of Alinta Energy’s closure decision in June 2015.

The engagement team undertook a program of community engagement from June to September 2015 to support affected workers and communities and to identify options and opportunities for the future of Leigh Creek and the surrounding region.

As a result of this engagement work, see the report reflecting the views of the community (PDF).

This report forms the basis of the State Government’s broader commitment to work closely with the region.