Targeted training helps Aboriginal women develop skills for mining sector – TAFE SA

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Targeted training helps Aboriginal women develop skills for mining sector

A pre-employment training program customised and delivered by TAFE SA’s Aboriginal Access Centre has helped a group of Indigenous women gain work in the mining sector.

The training at TAFE SA’s Port Augusta Campus enabled the women to develop key skills and confidence to prepare them for roles at mine sites in the north-west of South Australia.

The seven-week program, delivered in 2022, was developed in partnership with a NSW-based construction group, which specialises in civil and mining services and has contracts with Oz Minerals in South Australia, with support from Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation, Workskil and MADEC.

The Aboriginal Access Centre (AAC) facilitates education, training and support for Aboriginal students at TAFE SA sites across South Australia.

Additionally, the centre works with a range of job providers and industry partners to customise training to meet local workforce needs.

Aboriginal Access Centre (AAC) Director Marg Mibus said the NSW company wanted to provide opportunities for local women to be employed through its contract with Oz Minerals at Prominent Hill.

“We worked with the construction group to determine an appropriate skillset to meet their needs and then collaborated with local job providers and the wider community to run information sessions and source participants,” she said.

Eleven women enrolled in the training, which covered a range of topics and skills including operating a front-end loader, skid steer and excavator, basic levelling, working at heights and in confined spaces, WHS policies and procedures and White Card.

“The women who participated in the training loved it, they attended every session and everyone completed the training,” Marg said.

“They all gained employment, some at Prominent Hill and others at Olympic Dam and Carrapateena and it’s great to see the participants succeeding in non-traditional female roles.

“Ultimately, we want all participants to get a job because employment makes such a difference to people’s lives.”

The Aboriginal Access Centre delivers a range of pre-employment training programs and Marg said the success of them could be attributed to factors such as local knowledge, stakeholder engagement and cultural understanding combined with TAFE SA’s accredited training and great team of lecturers.

“With the women in mining program we knew the company that initiated the training didn’t have roles for all the participants, so we worked with the Kokatha Corporation and other stakeholders to make them aware of the training and encourage them to interview the students,” Marg said.

The Kokatha People are the Traditional Owners of a large area of land north of Port Augusta where the mines are located and there are native title agreements in place, which are managed by the Kokatha Corporation on behalf of its people.

“The companies we work with including Oz Minerals are committed to their Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP) and they want to provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to work at the mines,” Marg said.

“Our pre-employment programs for mining are designed to get people started in the sector and there is generally direct employment for everyone who completes the course.

“There are women and men of all ages who have participated in pre-employment programs at Port Augusta and they are now employed which is so important for the individuals and the community as a whole.”

Re-published with kind permission of TAFESA