Stories from the Coast: Turning small dreams into big visions through cooperation (part 2)


By Natalie Alexander as told by Tracy Sharp and Paul Martin (July 2015)

The On Track Co-op has held steadfast to its core values of providing quality services and adopting principles of servant leadership.

A focus on quality service is made possible because each organisation within the Co-op understands how to serve its own community by collaborating. There is a strong commitment to being ‘people driven’ and actively empowering the people they support.

The Co-op’s success in providing quality, people-driven services is also linked to a style of leadership known as servant leadership. First coined by Robert K Greenleaf (1970), servant leadership invites leaders to aspire to lead through the practice of serving others to create a more just and caring world.

As the Co-op seeks to operate on a consensus basis, this means that people can be both servants and leaders within their organisations.

As quoted by an On Track Co-op manager: “We do not want to be kings of our organisations but listen to the people at the grass roots, which means you have to step down from the realms of CEO or manager.”

There’s some truth to be held in that statement and it’s no wonder the Co-op is right on track when it comes to meeting the needs of their own community.

The Creekside project

With the desire to serve their community well and turn small dreams into big visions, two members of the Co-op have purchased a commercial building, known as Creekside.

The projects that will operate from Creekside will create a new and exciting direction for the Co-op. Based in a derelict building, located in Nambour’s recreational precinct, the major renovation about to be undertaken at Creekside will transform this building into a thriving community hub.

The hub will be central to providing a diverse range of programs and activities, including a range of social enterprises. There are also plans to operate a café to employ young people with disability. Operating as a social enterprise, the café will help to generate income and support people in meaningful employment opportunities.

The purchase of the building was a significant step for the Co-op because it was a tangible opportunity to respond to needs of its community. It also meant that the organisations would be less reliant upon government funding, instead, freeing them up to begin to imagine a range of future social enterprises that could benefit the community.

Creekside building

A creative approach to collaboration

The On Track Co-op has established a presence in the community thanks to a creative, forward thinking approach to collaboration.

They’ve taken small dreams and turned them into a big vision through cooperation. This vision carries a message that despite the challenges within the sector, there are new possibilities – it’s all about relationships; taking appropriate risks; innovation and creative dreaming.

For the On Track Co-op, collaboration is about being connected with like-minded people in meaningful relationship.

It’s all about finding the keys to unlock the limitations, the threats and the challenges. It’s about working together to find possibilities that bring hope, change and successful outcomes.

Thanks to the willingness of the Co-op to step out and re-envision ways of practising and collaborating, people with disability are the true beneficiaries of such innovative community development practice.