Grant putting Aboriginal trainees in the driver’s seat

A Dubbo-based company dedicated to growing Aboriginal participation in the construction industry is the latest beneficiary of the NSW Government’s Regional Job Creation Fund.

Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders has today announced $493,000 for Goanna Services to invest equipment for NSW’s first Aboriginal Plant Operator Academy.

“The NSW Government is building record infrastructure across regional NSW, and we want to see as many local and Indigenous people reaping the benefits as possible,” Mr Saunders said.

“Unfortunately, short timelines can make contractors hesitant to bring on unskilled workers.

“This funding will enable Goanna Services to establish a mobile training academy, giving people the skills necessary to work on one of its job sites across the region.”

Trainees will learn to operate everything from rollers, excavators, and skid steers to trucks. It’s hoped many will go on to work with the company, with up to 26 full-time equivalent roles to be created.

Goanna Services managing director Cory Robertson said he was inspired by the Aboriginal capacity-building programs he witnessed while working on the multi-billion-dollar WestConnex and NorthConnex projects.

“NSW is after 42,000 construction workers, you’ve got unemployment at a bit over 2 per cent in Dubbo, but Aboriginal employment is anywhere from 15 to 25 per cent,” Mr Robertson said.

“Traditional methods haven’t worked so we’re looking to close that participation gap.

“We’re putting people in an environment where they can be productive, work safely, and contribute to their own success, as well as the success of the company and the community they’re a part of. We put our youth and our mob in the driver’s seat to help them fully recognise their potential.”

Jaz Robertson is on the tools with the family business, and said it was “very rewarding” to be involved in infrastructure projects, large and small.

“In 10 years’ time, it’ll still be there. You put your blood sweat and tears into it, and it makes you quite proud to know you’ve actually helped your community,” she said.

An additional $100 million for the Regional Job Creation Fund was included in the 2022/23 Budget. Further details will be available later in 2022. For more information, go to: www.nsw.gov.au/RJCF.

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