When Kurt Heidecker began working in Gladstone in 2009 he was shocked by the strife between industry and the community.
"We'd go to barbecues and industry workers were ashamed to admit they worked for industry," he said.
"You're the bastard that's giving my son asthma. You caused the miscarriage of my sister-in-law. You're the reason that we have leukaemia outbreak in town. It was toxic."
Mr Heidecker said the negativity was "a shocking indictment of a relationship between industry and community" where "something that had been really tight and really supportive had gone terribly wrong".
Three-quarters of the Queensland city thought industry was doing them harm. "If that's not strained I don't know what is," Mr Heidecker said.
Yesterday, he told delegates at the NSW Mineral Council's conference in Wollongong about how the sides came together.
"We started off with two groups - one from industry, one from community; we couldn't even be in the same room, that was the level of toxicity that was there," Mr Heidecker said.
"Over time we broke it down, we started to get that trust."
The Gladstone Industry Leadership Group (GILG) is committed to keeping the community on the right track through transparency.
As chief executive officer, it is Mr Heidecker's job to understand community concerns and make sure industry hears them and acts.
The group's priorities are to improve community engagement, environmental transparency and accountability, he said.
The GILG website had constantly updated information about licence conditions, and levels and impacts of industry's emissions.
GILG includes Boyne Smelters Limited, Cement Australia, NRG Gladstone Operating Services, Queensland Alumina Ltd and Rio Tinto Alcan-Yarwun.
Mr Heidecker said the key to a healthy relationship between all parties and the broader community was transparency.
"To have credibility you've got to fess up," he said.
"People understand you make mistakes, but what they don't want is you not being open about it."