DIVERSITY “Typically, they have been through similar struggles in the past. They have a shared purpose, or shared goal, which is to increase opportunities, employment and wealth within Indigenous communities. “It’s important for that manager to educate the line managers and greater workforce of the cultural sensitivities in a way that’s not deemed to be secular or non-inclusive.” Another important component for the project was the Wardarn Koorl logo, which Matthews says was created to provide the employment program with its own identity and mission statement. “It’s Indigenous for ‘Ocean Journey’,” explains Matthews. “An Indigenous artist Darryl Bellotti created our OMSA logo and we also thought the Indigenous Program deserved its own specific logo. So you’ll see that both the indigenous colours and the words have significance. “It is an ocean journey for these guys, because they’re either receiving cargo from vessels that have been on the ocean, or they’ve actually been out on the ocean on our tugs, landing crafts and various vessels.” In terms of employee retention, Matthews describes the project as a huge success. In pre-employment, OMSA was committed to employing 13 of the 17 trainees going through the program. Of 17 starters, 16 graduated. Of the 13 who were offered jobs, 12 that achieved employment with OMSA or its sister company Offshore Marine Service (OMS) remain in employment. “We’ve only had two in the greater pool of workers resign or move on. When you consider that was above 50 employees, that’s a great statistic for any workforce,” notes Matthews. “The successes are seen at the local footy clubs, like Nollamara, where the indigenous guys play football, and the success just flows on. The guys that they play footy with and they knock-around with see that there are real opportunities, and that they’re not just being trained for the sake of funding. “They’re actually receiving jobs that are well paid and have put them on a career path. Because once they actually become Integrated Ratings, it gives them more options and employment opportunities. “Or they may decide they want to go down an engineering pathway to become and engineer on a vessel. Or, as a lot of them want to, can become ‘vessel masters’ and get their time as a skipper on vessels and work their way up to ‘Master’ level. So we’ll soon see these Indigenous Masters out there in charge of running their own vessel crew and the vessel.” Ultimately, Matthews says the project has given hope to a ‘remarkable set of individuals’ and helped to stop Indigenous Australians being ‘pigeon-holed’ into certain lines of employment. “I’m sure there were only small numbers of sea-faring Indigenous Australians prior to this program, to my knowledge anyway,” he says. “It gives others hope, and you see the flow-on effect when you see the brother or cousin of a sea-farer apply for a position either as a trainee or a deck-hand.” OMSA was awarded the Indigenous Employment and Engagement Award at AMMA’s recent 2012 Industry Awards ceremony.
The success just flows on. The guys that they play footy with and they knock-around with see that there are real opportunities and that they’re not just being trained for the sake of funding. BEN MATTHEWS.
Trainees striking a pose following water rescue training.
Safety in numbers – trainees enjoying water rescue training.
| Spring 2012 | www.amma.org.au