Miner building bridges

BHP Billiton has committed to growing the Indigenous training and employment program at its Pilbara iron ore operations, setting ambitious employment targets within the decade.

The Investment in Aboriginal Relationships program aims to increase Indigenous employment levels at the Pilbara iron ore operations to 12 per cent by 2010.

BHP Billiton spokesman John Crowley said the growing relationship was making it easier to talk about issues such as Native Title, as well as enabling Aboriginal people to fulfil their needs.

However, he said with levels of Indigenous employment at BHP Billiton’s Pilbara operations before the program at 3 per cent, a 9 per cent increase was a significant undertaking. 

The international miner’s Aboriginal Relationships program includes an Indigenous traineeship scheme, development and support of educational, vocational and life skills programs in conjunction with the Education Department, as well as expansion of the company’s cross-cultural training programs.

While training and apprenticeship schemes form a large part of the program, education is also an area being developed.

A mentoring system, which encourages secondary students to stay in school has been established together with an after hours study and education centre named after Indigenous footballer Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer.

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