Indigenous Australians working on the NorthConnex project have called on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to consider a career in construction to take advantage of the NSW infrastructure boom.
Tunnellers Wayde Buckman, 31, and Alister Lardner, 26, are people of the Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung Nations and they work at the NorthConnex Trelawney Street Compound.
“I joined NorthConnex in October last year and, after three months, I was given a permanent role,” Mr Buckman said.
“We were trained up by good people and now we operate heavy machinery, including roadheaders, rockbolters and concrete agitators. It’s amazing how quickly you learn because now we are training up green guys ourselves.”
Mr Lardner said there will be many opportunities in the next decade for those who are willing to move away from home.
“Indigenous communities are very close and often people don’t want to leave but on projects like this there is plenty of support,” Mr Lardner said.
“My advice to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would be to just get out there and take advantage of what’s on offer because home isn’t going anywhere and there are lots of jobs if you want to work.”
NorthConnex has set a target of five per cent of the project’s workforce being of Indigenous heritage and is currently sitting at around 4%. So far almost 300 workers of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage have worked on the $3 billion project.
Local Member for Ku-ring-gai, Alister Henskens SC MP, praised the Indigenous employment partners who are connecting local Indigenous businesses and talent to projects that will benefit Ku-ring-gai and greater Sydney.
“To date, NorthConnex has engaged local Indigenous businesses and employees to provide services ranging from crane subcontractors to event catering to the tune of more than $15 million,” Mr Henskens said.
“The work of Indigenous employment partners to find this great talent has been fantastic and I encourage them to continue supporting the booming infrastructure industry.”
Managing Director for Aboriginal Resource Group, Cory Robertson, said the business is proud to be a part of, and contributing to, the success of the NorthConnex project.
“We knew from the start that working together on a significant community infrastructure project is more than building tunnels and road systems. It’s the opportunity we have been looking for to showcase Indigenous work talent at its best,” Mr Robertson said.
“We are very appreciative of the relationship and partnership we have built with NorthConnex and the positive ripple effect and legacy it has made and will continue to create.”
Indigenous people are encouraged to contact the project to find out more about employment opportunities by emailing [email protected].