"On Country" with PWA
A long-term issue in remote western NSW has been the disconnect between training, work experience and employment. State Government contracts in the past have generally been bundled into larger projects, which can present challenges for local contractor participation.
Public Works Advisory (PWA), through our Riverina Western Region, has for the past 4 years worked towards reducing contract size to ensure participation of local contractors. Allied to this PWA has engaged in a partnership with TAFE NSW, the Aboriginal Prosperity Group and Bourke Shire Council to provide training opportunity and work experience on NSW Government projects. To date this program has focused on Bourke and Brewarrina but is now being rolled out to other western towns which are predominantly Aboriginal communities.
PWA and Bourke Shire Council have actively promoted this initiative with local contractors who are keen to participate. Local tradespeople see the benefit of continuity in State Government contracts being executed locally, which provides confidence to employ apprentices and trainees. The Aboriginal community sees this initiative as a positive step to keeping people “On Country”, and this is particularly relevant with current concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
PWA is now in negotiation with other government departments, both state and federal, soliciting support for this initiative which has been enthusiastically supported by the local community.
Image: Bourke Aboriginal Prosperity Group.