A strong contribution to the Goldfields economy

COMMON perceptions of the Goldfields region often fail to recognise any notion of economic input by Aboriginal people.

Confirming an Aboriginal contribution of $66 million per year to the regional economy, Goldfields Land and Sea Council director Brian Wyatt said this input went largely unrecognised.

The economic boost comes from a combination of government grant initiatives and service agencies, community activities and private enterprise.

Local Aboriginal enterprises include employment, motor mechanics, business cleaning services and a vending machine business. At least 20 indigenous companies provide

services to the mining industry.

But Mr Wyatt says volatility in the Kalgoorlie area in terms of community relations often compelled people to get involved with the Aboriginal community.

Native Title agreement negotiations with local mining companies often included employment and tendering guarantees, with a significant economic contribution coming from working drilling rigs, capping drill holes and providing earth-moving and haulage services, he says.

WMC has estimated Aborigines in the Goldfields region provide $24 million worth of goods and services annually to the company and, with Federal Government assistance, the company runs an Indigenous Employment Initiative.

Two indigenous businesses, BYAC Contractors and Bidarn, supply labouring and courier work and cleaning services, respectively, to Anaconda Nickel, while the company holds regular 24-week training programs in engineering maintenance and plant operations. The live-in program, part of the John Forrest Vocational Training and Education Centre joint venture between 15 mining companies, trains Aborigines on-site, with a similar roster to company employees and guarantees employment on successful completion of the course.

Just 9 per cent of the Goldfields region population is Aboriginal.

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