An Indigenous employment program for people in the Northern Territory, created by Swinburne, has won the 'Best Community Engagement Award' at the 2016 Business/Higher Education Round Table awards.
The program, Doors 2 Jobs, was developed in conjunction with the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA), to equip local Indigenous people on the remote island of Millingimbi with the skills needed for employment with local labour hire companies.
“The people in Millingimbi live more than 500km east of Darwin. Employment opportunities are limited,” Terry McEvoy, Swinburne manager of the Doors 2 Jobs program, says.
Mr McEvoy and his team identified a large number of fly-in-fly-out tradesmen were coming into Millingimbi to undertake maintenance and repair work around town.
“My team and I saw this as an opportunity to begin offering training to the locals. We started with window and door repairs, as well as the safe operation of tools and equipment.
“Our plan was to create maintenance people who could report on the condition of specific properties, create maintenance programs and carry out the actual maintenance where required.”
This training eventually saw the team offering a Certificate 3 in Remote Area Building Repairs and Maintenance to several communities within East Arnhem Land.
Upskilling a generation
Since the program began in 2014, more than 335 young people across the East Arnhem region have undertaken training. Swinburne teachers spend four weeks at a time in the communities of Milingimbi, Ramingining and Galiwinku working with and training locals.
“We’ve still got a long way to go before we’re done, but the hope is that over time we will work closely with the community to develop sustainable business models, giving the local residents ongoing employment in their area,” Mr McEvoy says.
Swinburne staff involved in Doors 2 Jobs include program Sharon Rice, Jon Wallace, Meredith Fraser, Richard Thorpe, Glen Woods and Anna Cranney.
Mr McEvoy credits the success of the program to the hard work of the teaching staff involved.
“The program wouldn’t have been possible without the input, enthusiasm, and dedication of the whole team.
“Receiving this award is an honour and also recognition of the important work we are undertaking.”
This project also included collaboration with the Department of Business – Northern Territory Government, East Arnhem Regional Council, Deltareef P/L, Milingimbi Furniture and Bukmak Construction.