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Ernesto Sirolli in the Huon

Huon Valley Guessing Games The Sirolli Institute, hired at great cost to the public purse early this year by the Giddings Government to help three economically struggling regions of Tasmania, has failed a vital early test in the Huon Valley.

A hugely attended public meeting on June 4 in the Huonville LINC building’s Pear Room — inspiringly addressed by the institute’s founder, Ernesto Sirolli — attracted scores of names and email addresses (maybe as many as 150) of people eager to grasp this straw of hope in tough times.

They all wanted to offer their assistance to make the Sirolli venture succeed (see ‘Hope for the Huon . . . and Tasmania’ here).

More than four months have now passed and, it appears, hardly anyone who put their name on one of the two “interest” lists outside the June 4 meeting room has been contacted by the institute.

I made a couple of inquiries to find out what was happening. My first, in August, got a reply on August 29 stating that the position of “enterprise facilitator” was being advertised.

On September 7, I wrote again, saying: “Ever since the inaugural Sirolli public meeting in Huonville many people out there in the community have been expecting to at least get a note from the institute to say what has been happening.

“Some have told me that they expected to be kept informed because they left their email addresses and a tick to say they wanted to be involved.

“To my knowledge, a lot of talent signed up at the June 4 meeting offering their services, some of them hoping to be on your committee of 50 or so.

“The silence since is not winning friends or influencing people.”

To that inquiry, I got a same-day reply: “I will investigate for you.  I believe the Sirollis are back in the Huon Valley on the 24th and 25th of September and maybe by then we will have clarity on what happens next and what communication they will initiate with all those who have expressed interest.”

A little while later I got a telephone call from a person involved in the Sirolli exercise assuring me that things were happening.

My observation to that person — that people who had offered to assist the venture were still in the dark, some of them expressing failing confidence that anything would come of it — seemed not to evoke an understanding that the Sirolli Institute was failing the simple test of communication; and, in doing so, it was losing the support of many of those eager to play a role in boosting the valley’s sagging economic fortunes.

The people of the Huon Valley are inherently polite, and all too used to promises that come to naught. So even now they would still be only too happy to rally to any cause that gives them hope. But it must be said that their patience is being put to the test.

The thought of “public relations” can engender awful images, but it does have its uses. A simple email/letter/newspaper update each month would have done much to assuage the growing feeling that the Sirolli venture — one that sent hopes so high when winter was closing in — has been yet another hot-air balloon that has since soared out of sight.