Oil and gas companies have no shortage of reasons to aspire to good corporate citizenship. Ultimately, their very survival depends on relationships that shape the social and political landscapes of operating contexts. Natural resources are found but good operating contexts need to be made. Best practices in a range of areas from government relations to the environment and community development are required to secure cross-sector commitment to long-term, win-win relationships.

Consequently, it is important that there is more than a superficial understanding of what corporate citizenship comprises and how it might be achieved. Dollar value is an imperfect measure where best practice corporate citizenship is manifest as a multi-faceted commitment to the creation of healthy, vibrant communities. This paper explains why the creation of successful operating contexts is inextricably linked with such an approach, necessarily involving collaborations across government, the private sector, NGOs, not-for-profit organizations and communities.

Allan Tranter has been at the cutting edge of community development in the most resourcerich region of Australia, designing and facilitating partnerships between BHP Billiton, local governments and communities. BHP Billiton has moved from a project-based ad hoc approach in the Pilbara to whole-of-community strategies based on research, active engagement, effective advocacy and the nurturing of long-term relationships. Tangible outcomes now indicate that positive outcomes are inextricably linked with the development of social capital, particularly in youth and Indigenous population sub-groups. Tranter explains this phenomenon, arguing that a ‘handout’ mentality militates against community development by creating a culture of dependence. Using an intentional communities matrix, he delivers a model for the transfer of Australian experience to global petroleum industry contexts, particularly those involving remote communities facing community infrastructure deficits and complex issues associated with the historical trajectory of Indigenous peoples. Importantly, he provides practical solutions to that perennial problem: 'Where do we start?'

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