Adrien Meredith

Adrien Meredith was born in 1968. After completing an arts degree she worked in market research and ultimately became a research manager with property company Lend Lease. When the company proposed a new ‘contentious’ building on Hickson Road in Millers Point she became Community Development Manager. In her interview she talks about negotiating community concerns about development in Millers Point; hostility and scepticism, working with the local Resident Action Groups, and working with young people of secondary and primary school age, particularly in a mentorship program. In the excerpt below she talks about the unplanned benefits to Lend Lease of the youth mentorship program.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

There has been quite a few benefits and most of them we probably didn’t
expect. There has been a real sense of increased employee morale and that is not
only from the people who are participating in the program – I mean they feel very
proud to be part of it and they have a greater understanding of the local area – it is
other people who might say, ‘Look the mentoring program is not for me but I feel
incredibly proud that a company I’m working for is doing that.’

The whole company has a greater appreciation for the local area because they are influenced by the young people coming into the building, right from the reception staff to senior management who see these kids walking around in school uniform and it’s a really nice way. Also people walk down to the ferry or down Kent Street and kids will yell out, ‘Oh I know you. Do you work at Lend Lease? Do you know so-and-so?’

It is a fun environment rather than if we didn’t have any interaction they might walk down and be intimidated by groups of young people hanging out in corners. There is a real sense of community amongst the mentors themselves, which is a really nice thing that we hadn’t planned on. It has been put up as a ‘Best Practice’ model throughout the company so, for example, Lend Lease has retail centres and residential developments. Those projects are starting to adopt a mentoring program because they have seen the success of this one. I could go on and on.

There is incredible personal growth for some of the employees who have been involved, like from an HR perspective, becoming more sympathetic, more well-rounded people. We very recently won the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership Award, that was a national award. The whole Partnership went down to Melbourne to receive the award, so that was very exciting.

Frank Heimans