A small group of girls from Punmu are earning good money, getting good experience, helping ease a peak period problem, and setting an example to others.
They are the ‘Punmu Casuals’ or ‘Pasuals’ as ESS’s Telfer Project Manager, Dayle Bartlett, describes them.
They answered an invitation from Telfer’s Community Relations team to work with ESS for two days each week, when shift changes regularly added more work and scheduling pressure for the available housekeeping staff.
A plan was hatched to employ the girls from Punmu to overcome the problem, rather than search for casuals elsewhere. A small group was identified.
They needed to be committed; available to work (or find a replacement if any of them was unavailable on a particular shift); able to work efficiently; and able to travel the 140km Punmu-to-Telfer leg so they arrive for work on time.
Dayle, and her relief manager Julian Carr, together with ESS’s State Manager Kevin Nesbitt, and Support Services Supervisor Emma Madden, Community Relations Superintendent Leon van Erp, and Senior CR Advisor Ben Bryant worked together to overcome the early obstacles: None of the girls had a driver’s licence, and ESS had never employed casual staff at Telfer.
Community Relations undertook to drive the girls to and from the Telfer site as required each week; while ESS relaxed
its rules requiring every employee to have a driver’s licence, and on employing casuals. The obstacles had been removed.
With up to 900 people on site and shift changes occurring, mainly on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the pressure was on the ESS team to clean and prepare rooms as quickly as possible.
So, the Pasuals – Casandra Nanudi, Roxanne Chapman, Lovina and Marika Biljabu – started work, cleaning and preparing rooms, changing linen, mopping and vacuuming, and working in the laundry.
“They are doing really well, they seem to be enjoying the work, they fit in well, and they’re making good money,” said Dayle.
“We’re all committed to helping them succeed, to provide more opportunities for this group, and to prepare more groups to follow them in the future.
“Members of this first group can transition to full-time employment if they want to.
“The Pasuals have been good for our existing staff, too, who have made them feel welcome.
“They recognise the assistance the Pasuals have provided in helping to relieve the pressure when demand for housekeeping is at a peak.
“The Pasuals are testimony to what can be done when departments, and people at all levels, work together to overcome obstacles rather than create them,” Dayle said.
A ‘Special’ group
ESS Relief Project Manager Julian Carr could not speak highly enough in praising the trainees (though he tried really hard!).
“This group is special,” he said. “They have been fantastic, regardless of the tasks we’ve given them to do during their work experience phase.
“They’ve worked in gardening, catering, kitchen, rooms, laundry – all without complaint. They’ve even turned up early for work, raring to go! No one has asked to go to the medical centre with sore feet or headaches or back aches – and that’s never happened before.
“They are all shining lights, and our staff are gobsmacked at how committed and efficient they are.”
Julian has worked closely with the Indigenous trainees since the Telfer-based program started in 2008.
Some of the trainees, including Marissa Toby from Punmu, graduated from the course to work part-time with ESS, gaining valuable experience and confidence working in several of its service areas before eventually securing full-time role employment with ESS at Telfer.