Telfer has initiated and supported Martu and Indigenous training and employment programs for the past 16 years.
Because Telfer is located in the middle of the Western Desert’s mostly isolated Martu communities, it can take up to 10 hours to travel to nearby towns or Telfer itself. These realities often make it very difficult for local Indigenous people to access the facilities and resources required to seek employment. That’s where the Telfer’s Community Relations team assists.
The CR team works closely with different departments, contractors and subcontractors onsite at Telfer to identify and provide training and employment opportunities for local Indigenous people, and also assists local job seekers in getting all the required documentation they need to apply for work.
Recently, the Community Relations team has worked closely onsite with Cardinals Contracting, who are undertaking a land rehabilitation project. Cardinals and the Community Relations team have developed a training plan that enables interested Martu and local Indigenous candidates to learn new skills and experiences in operating heavy machinery at Telfer. Without such plans and assistance, it would be very difficult for local Martu and Indigenous people to work at Telfer.
The Tour Begins
The process of recruiting for the Cardinals training program started with contacting community and regional stakeholders, including community coordinators, employment agencies and local Martu elders.
It was agreed the next step should be a visit to communities and towns to conduct face-to-face interviews with potential candidates. Those communities are Marble Bar, Warralong, Hedland, Jigalong and Newman and they are located hundreds of kilometres apart.
Telfer Community Relations Advisor Dan Tincknell would undertake the tour. Such a trip involves much preparation and, between January and March, necessarily relies on a fair dose of good luck from Mother Nature along the way.
After travelling for close to four hours (270 km) on gravel roads and passing through two river crossings, Dan arrived at the Marble Bar turn-off, only to see signs reporting the road to Hedland had been closed due to flooding. With no option but to wait for the conditions to improve, Dan found accommodation in Marble Bar for the evening.
Marble Bar received about 90mm of rain overnight. Now, the only road open out of Marble Bar was to Newman via Nullagine.
The gravel Nullagine Road was wet and slippery, and Dan proceeded toward Nullagine with much caution.
He encountered many creek crossings, wash-outs and flooded patches, and his 4WD-driving skills were put to the test. Once past Nullagine, the journey to Newman was less eventful and Dan soon met with representatives from Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation, an employment agency for Indigenous people in Newman.
Ashburton quickly organised face-to-face interviews with some of their interested Indigenous job seekers. More than 15 interviews with local Indigenous job seekers were organised the following day, and all were very keen to find some form of work.
Different questions were asked of the job seekers to find out more information about them and why they wanted to work at Telfer. The new job seekers were advised that to gain employment at Telfer, employees had to complete some checks and documentation, including a pre-employment medical examination, so that Newcrest could be satisfied they were fit and healthy to perform their job safely onsite.
There are many opportunities at Telfer for those willing to do the right thing and wanting to learn new skills.
As part of Telfer’s Community Relations program it assists job seekers in getting medicals, police clearances, resumes, licences, tickets and identification documentation ready so local Indigenous job seekers can be employed at Telfer.
With the rain continuing to fall and the Jigalong road now closed, travel plans were put on hold till weather conditions improved. Still wanting to visit Hedland and Warralong to meet interested job seekers and assist candidates with checks and documentation, a re-scheduled trip was organised for a fortnight later when the weather and roads would likely be cleared.
Arriving in Hedland, Dan met with Telfer’s Community Liaison Officer Kevin Fred, who had organised candidates to be available for interviews. They spent the day interviewing several candidates and assisted them in applying for birth certificates through the courts so they had sufficient identification to apply for police clearances.
Dan and Kevin later collected candidates and arranged for them to complete pre-employment medicals and assisted them with paperwork for any additional ID checks.
Later, Dan met with officers from Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation to discuss upcoming training and employment opportunities. Ashburton were able to assist in identifying more suitable candidates. With the weather and road conditions now improved, Dan made the two-hour drive to Warralong to catch up with Warralong’s activities coordinator and the school principal, and conducted five interviews with young ‘eager-to-work’ Martu. Both weeks were successful in identifying candidates for the upcoming operator training course, due to start in coming months.
The Telfer Community Relations team looks forward to providing more quality training and employment opportunities for remote Indigenous people.
Over the two weeks of travelling, Dan covered some 1,500km over six days and visited five different locations.