The Queensland resources industry has recommitted to playing its part in creating economic opportunities and jobs for Indigenous workers following the release of the latest ‘Closing the Gap’ report.
The Closing the Gap 2018 update outlined that 6599 Indigenous Australians were employed by the mining industry, an increase of 250 per cent since 2006. The number of non-Indigenous Australians employed in mining also increased by 150 per cent over the same period.
Despite these positive numbers, targets such as halving the gap in employment and halving the gap in reading and numeracy, areas in which the industry can assist with, are not on track.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive (QRC) Ian Macfarlane said economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians are essential to making meaningful strides towards achieving Closing the Gap targets and the resources sector has an important role to play in this.
“The Queensland resources sector is proud of our role in providing employment and economic opportunities to Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Macfarlane.
“The resources sector is one of only two sectors in Queensland with a genuine representation of Indigenous employees. Indigenous people comprise 4 per cent of the state’s workforce in resources and Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4.1 per cent.”
The only other sector to match this is the public service industry. Across all Queensland industries, the representation of Indigenous employees hits 2.5 per cent.
Several mining and minerals companies are implementing Indigenous employment programs, scholarships and other opportunities, aiming to take ownership and responsibility, ultimately working towards securing sustainable employment for the long-term.
Rio Tinto and Metro Mining are two examples to have significant Indigenous participation numbers in the far north region of the state.
“Rio’s commitment to hiring locally was demonstrated with 1,200 people employed at peak construction at its Amrum bauxite project, and since project inception in May 2016, close to 400 Indigenous Australians have been employed by the project,” said Mr Macfarlane.
“Metro Mining’s Indigenous workforce currently sits at 37 per cent of the company’s workforce,” he added.
Another milestone is that Indigenous women in Queensland’s resources sector (who represent 26 per cent of the Indigenous workforce) is close to twice the non-Indigenous rate.
The Indigenous workforce is also much younger than the overall resources sector workforce, with 43 per cent under the age of 35 compared to 35 per cent of the overall resources workforce.
Senior Kullilli man Peter White said the resources sector is giving Indigenous Australians the opportunity to work in a well-paid sector in the Cooper Basin.
“From an economical point of view, oil and gas are about the only jobs out there for the Kullilli people. There is nothing else we can do,” Mr White said.
“They’ve always been very good to work for they listen to our complaints. They have always been good to us especially with the cultural heritage work.”
The Closing the Gap report can be found here.