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NAVIGATOR: Extension for a New Millennium

Katherine Boon1 and Patricia Murray2

1Primary Industries and Resources South Australia
University of Adelaide.

NAVIGATOR is an innovative program designed to enable producer groups to determine their own agenda, set their own goals and design and implement projects that will be useful to them. NAVIGATOR is a process designed by Primary Industries and Resources South Australia in conjunction with the University of Adelaide, to stimulate cultural change by fostering an environment of continuous learning, development and self-reliance. NAVIGATOR is an extension process that allows producers to determine their own agenda and direction(s) to improve areas of their enterprise which they identify.

NAVIGATOR is designed in such a way that it develops in producers new ways of dealing with issues, strategies for planning and finding and using information: for many it will constitute a completely new pattern for thinking through problems.

This process differs from others in that the direction the group takes is totally producer determined and the project outcomes are producer achieved. This is not another modular programme where producers are taken through a pre-determined, and other determined, learning programme. The process is producer focussed and its directions are entirely producer determined. NAVIGATOR provides a defined process through which producers can explore all aspects of their enterprise, from production to market, including the social, economic and environmental contexts in which they operate their businesses. Thus producers are likely to become more holistic and market focussed, they also become more business orientated because they look at all aspects of their business. As a result of this process producers’ extend their networks and a broader outlook is achieved. In NAVIGATOR there are no preconceived outcomes or directions or boundaries, producers decide where and on what, in their total circumstances, it is important for them to concentrate.

The process is highly participative and allows the producers to absorb the learning process principals that sit within the process without being aware of it occurring. The facilitator’s task is merely to help the group work through the process the first time. The process is iterative in its approach and by the second or third time, the producers may well decide that they can do the sessions on their own. NAVIGATOR was developed in this way so producers become independent of both the process and the facilitator. The self-direction that is in-built in the process has meant that producers become more self-reliant and better able to make decisions about all aspects of their business.

NAVIGATOR facilitates producers in planning, designing and carrying out their own projects, this process encourages producers to determine desired outcomes and identify and carry out projects that will achieve these outcomes. In this part of the process producers are encouraged to consistently review and monitor their activities in light of their goals. Because the process guarantees producer direction at all stages, high levels of commitment are common. In the process, producers learn about project planning through high level participation. All this leads to more self-reliance, cultural change and personal development. Participation in NAVIGATOR develops in producers, what for many will be a new thinking pattern, a way of dealing with problems, and strategies for finding and using information in their businesses.

PIRSA staff have trialed the process with groups of winegrape producers from varying cultural backgrounds and educational levels and from across various regions the South Australia. With only minor alterations the process can be used with producers from the full range of agricultural industries. In September 2000 representatives from the winegrape industry in South Australia, and PIRSA field crop consultants were trained to deliver NAVIGATOR to producers in their respective disciplines. It is intended that this stage of the programme will be run as an extended pilot for a period of one year, after which anyone can be trained to deliver the process within any industry. In the long term it is anticipated that the NAVIGATOR will be a programme presented to and by industry with minimal input from government agencies.

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