A group of 10 indigenous trainees have been given a head start in the construction industry through a new West Gate Tunnel Project program designed to get more Indigenous Australians into the construction industry.

    The trainees started working on the West Gate Tunnel Project last month, after graduating from the four-week Aboriginal Pre-Employment Program at the Kangan Institute in Broadmeadows.

    The Aboriginal Pre-Employment Program included hands-on training to learn practical skills needed for working on major infrastructure projects, including how to read engineering plans and drawings, and use a range of tools and equipment.

    The trainees also completed modules towards their Certificate II in Building and Construction Pre-Apprenticeship and will complete a civil construction Certificate III over 18 months while working on the West Gate Tunnel Project.

    Two women and seven men have already started and are working across the project’s five major work-sites in the west. The tenth trainee will start on the project in the coming weeks.

    Kristy Stewart, one of the graduates, is working at the major tunnelling site in Footscray.

    ‘My first month on the job has been brilliant – the people are so easy to work with and I have plenty of support around me,’ Kristy said.

    “It’s good to put into practice what we learned at the training course and I am continuing to learn new things on the job each day.

    “I am also very excited for the arrival of the massive tunnel boring machines early next year and can’t wait to get involved in some way.”

    Kristy grew up in Shepparton and her family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland.

    “Most of my family now live in Broome and I am encouraging my sister and friends to work in construction as well.

    “This project has every kind of job that you can possibly imagine – and jobs that do not require manual labour.”

    Kristy has lived in Werribee for five years and loves the area.

    “It’s a great place to raise my nine-year old son and I like the fact that the west has everything you need – you don’t ever really need to leave.

    “There’s so many good shops and food spots.”

    The West Gate Tunnel Project Aboriginal Pre-Employment Program has drawn on the experience of industry partners including Kangan Institute and Goal Indigenous Services (GOAL IS) to help with recruitment and tailoring training for each individual. Participants will do entry-level construction roles such as traffic management, hazard spotting or general labouring roles across the project, with a mentoring and support program in place to ensure a smooth transition into the workforce.

    Dean Rioli, General Manager, GOAL Indigenous Services, said it’s important for the West Gate Tunnel Project to create opportunities like this.

    “We have worked closely with the project team to find the best people for the job and we appreciate their commitment to providing fantastic opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

    “This program will change their lives by giving them the practical training and experience that will set them up for life.”

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