SA Mines and Energy Journal : Dec09-Jan10
DECEMBER 2009/JANUARY 2010 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL 40 INDIGENOUS One of the hardest aspects of employing Aboriginal people, women and the long- term unemployed is getting started and then retaining them. There are many resource companies and their contractors in South Australia who have committed to increasing the employment and training opportunities for the Indigenous communities within whose lands they operate. However, this is not their core business and many need assistance to fulfil their commitments. The Mining, Energy and Engineering Academy (MEEA) takes some of the pain out of attracting, retaining and upskilling Indigenous and long-term unemployed people. It effectively acts as a broker, liaising with the relevant organisations on behalf of mining, energy and heavy engineering industries. Each business may have its own objectives in relation to training, recruitment and employment, mentoring, cultural awareness and relationship building. The MEEA can develop a package of solutions, including opportunities to access government funding, the identification of preferred suppliers and sponsoring students. The academy will project manage the solution to ensure the objectives are achievable. The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the MEEA is Alan Tidswell, who until March of this year was General Manager Human Resources at OneSteel Whyalla and the key person behind the innovative employment programs run in Whyalla and Port Augusta. The MEEA is located with the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, and Mr Tidswell works closely with its Director of Indigenous Relations, Stephanie Walker. Both organisations aim to contribute to socially inclusive communities by developing opportunities for the employment of unemployed, under-employed, female and Indigenous people in the minerals and resources sector, particularly in the regions where mineral and resource developments are underway. Since its inception in March of this year, the MEEA has developed and opened up a variety of innovative, strategic and successful Indigenous employment and training pathways and opportunities. It liaises with every level of government, industry skills councils and providers of higher education, vocational education and training, and schools to develop workforce Creating opportunities Employing local and Indigenous people is not always straightforward but there is help available for resource companies wanting to develop a local workforce -- if you know where to look.