Celebrating NAIDOC Week on Parramatta Light Rail

06 July 2021

For this year’s NAIDOC Week from 4 to 11 July, the Parramatta Light Rail team is celebrating the contributions and achievements of Aboriginal people on the project. The theme for this year, Heal Country, is focused on setting stronger measures to recognise, protect and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

Located on Darug land, the Parramatta Light Rail project is focused on providing employment opportunities to diverse communities, including Aboriginal people, through several initiatives and programs. There are currently six Aboriginal people working on the project with infrastructure works contractor, Parramatta Connect, as General Labourers and Trainees, making up 2.5 per cent of their direct-hire workforce. 

Parramatta Connects’ Pre-Employment Program helps participants from a range of backgrounds develop skills to gain work in the construction industry. More than half of the participants in the latest cohort were Aboriginal people and were all offered ongoing permanent General Labourer roles on the project upon completion of the program. 

One participant, Eithen, completed the Pre-Employment program in 2020 and had this to share about his experience.

“During this time, we got the construction White Card and learnt life skills such as personal budgeting and finances, and the importance of looking after our mental and physical health. We also enrolled in a Certificate II in Civil Construction Traineeship and commenced studying. I will be completing this qualification by the end of this year. After completing two-weeks of theory, I was very keen to go onsite and start working as a General Labourer in North Parramatta.”

Some other initiatives to support Aboriginal people on the project include:

  • Working with CathWest Innovation College to employ school-based trainees. One out of three students identify themselves as Aboriginal and are completing a Certificate II in Civil Construction, through a Registered Training Organisation. While completing their Certificate II, the students work on the project one day a week to acquire the skills necessary to become a General Labourer. 
  • Forming a partnership with CareerTrackers who provide a paid internship opportunity for one Aboriginal Human Resource Undergraduate. Nicholas was studying Human Resources at university and completed a four-week internship with the Parramatta Connect Human Resources team in 2020.
  • Partnered with 18 Aboriginal businesses which are supply chain certified or registered to deliver works on the project, including Geared up Culcha, a certified personal protective equipment supplier; Borger Cranes, a certified crane hire company; and New Start Australia, a certified company that supplies and installs road signs and furniture.
  • Implementing cultural awareness training, as well as specific sessions for direct supervisors of Aboriginal employees, to help employees better understand the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.
  • A Parramatta Light Rail Aboriginal Focus Group helps to preserve the cultural heritage of any objects located and areas impacted by the project.
  • Proactively celebrate the heritage and significance of Aboriginal culture in shaping Parramatta and surrounding areas. Recently, an online Aboriginal Heritage seminar was held to showcase the extensive Aboriginal history and evidence of Aboriginal settlement dating back over 30,000 years that had been found under the future light rail alignment.

The Parramatta Light Rail project recognises the valuable work and contributions of all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and contractors in making the project a success.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To find out more, visit https://www.naidoc.org.au

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