I have been working with Sherena Oxley for the last eighteen months since our initial contact after I attended ChangeFest 2018 in Logan. Shortly after the conference I made contact with Griffith University to enquire about the data collection utilised for the Logan Together initiative. I was introduced to Sherena and, after several emails and zoom discussions with Sherena, I learnt about the Regional Innovation Data Lab (RIDL). After explanations of how RIDL was being used in the Queensland context, and its potential for the New South Wales context, I was very excited by RIDL’s potential for place-based community development work in Sydney. Western Sydney University provided funding support and, along with the support of Griffith University, Sherena and I planned and ran two successful workshops with placed-based organisations in Western Sydney. The workshops participants were drawn from attendees at an Early Years Collaboration symposium in 2018 organised to showcase Western Sydney University research using data in innovative ways. In the workshops, Sherena was able to share some of the work that had been done in Logan Together and explore the potential of engaging RIDL for use in Western Sydney and other areas. We are now engaged in further discussions to explore the potential of RIDL in Western Sydney as a direct result of the workshops and follow up discussions and meetings.
Personally, in all interactions Sherena displays a high level of professionalism. She has been very generous with her time and knowledge, and in sharing her learning with the respective groups in Western Sydney and other areas of Sydney. Her trips to Sydney and consequent discussions with staff of place based organisations, university, councils and community development programs has provided a catalyst to our data conversations and proved to be a turning point for many of the place based organisations in understanding how data can be used, realising the potential of data for their organisations and ultimately for a way to further develop and improve services to families and children in their local areas. Presently we are discussing a partnership to determine what data needs to be collected and how to collect it, and the possibility of a trial of the RIDL platform in areas of western Sydney.