A new initiative aimed at boosting Indigenous employment in Queensland will result in 14 women beginning traineeships at Thiess and Wesfarmers.
The haul truck operator positions will be based at the Curragh North Coal Mine near Blackwater under a state government-supported project titled Sisters in Mining.
All of the women are from the Woorabinda Aboriginal community, with the Queensland traineeships providing them with the necessary skills to work in the state’s mining sector.
Treasurer and Minister for Employment Curtis Pitt said the initiative is a joint effort between his department, Thiess, Wesfarmers, The Salvation Army and the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council.
“During their 18-month traineeship, all participants will complete a Certificate III Surface Extraction, with six of the women to be employed by Wesfarmers and the other eight to be employed by Thiess,” he stated.
“The professional experience gained through employment and training will provide these indigenous women with transferable skills to enhance their competitiveness in the labour market.”
Mr Pitt added that these traineeships in Queensland show the state government’s commitment to upskilling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to meet the growing needs of the local mining industry.
Indigenous employment in Queensland
Lynette Anderson, a trust board member of the Gaangulu Nation Peoples, welcomed the new traineeships. She said schemes such as Sisters in Mining are crucial for boosting employment levels among Aboriginal Australians.
“There’s still a very high unemployment rate among Indigenous people, particularly women, so I’m pleased to see mining companies and government making the effort to build capacity in our community so we have the skills to compete for available positions,” she stated.
It is hoped the template used in the initiative can be shared and implemented in Indigenous communities across the country. The women who secure the positions will also act as excellent role models for younger generations, Ms Anderson added.
The announcement of new traineeships in Queensland comes as the federal government released the Indigenous Procurement Policy guidelines on Monday (May 25). The framework has a target to offer 3 per cent of Commonwealth public sector contracts to Indigenous businesses within the next five years.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said: “Indigenous businesses are around 100 times more likely to employ an Indigenous person and overwhelmingly, Indigenous businesses are small businesses.”
According to Mr Scullion, the Commonwealth spends billions of dollars a year on goods and services, so it’s important to allow more First Australians to benefit from this purchasing power.
By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator