||Issue No. 187||18 July 2003|
Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
Sid Einfield Would be Proud
Tom in the Manger
Sermon on the Mount
Indigenous First for Construction
That might not be remarkable, but the six-week course is the first of its kind specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the NSW construction industry.
And this Awards ceremony, during NAIDOC week, had a particular energy and enthusiasm -- because it marked the fulfillment of long-held dreams for the organisers and their hopes for the future to benefit Indigenous youth and the wider Australian community.
The course was developed thanks to the initiative of CFMEU Aboriginal Liaison Organiser, Les Tobler, along with Indigenous construction company, Gunai Constructions.
They found strong support for the idea at Lidcombe College of TAFE and a partnership between the CFMEU and Lidcombe College was quickly formed. Head Teacher of Construction, Colin Warn enthusiastically took on the program and played a key role, along with Tobler, and Gunai Constructions Murray Free and Chris Bell, in making it all happen.
"My main function," says Tobler "is to try to break the barriers down for our young people, to give them access to the industry and an opportunity to get the skills that other people obtain; to enable them to be their own self and start to do things for themselves in their own community."
That meant doing the hard yards, to raise money for the course and generate the community and industry support that would make it work.
But Tobler and his mates pulled it off. Besides the CFMEU and Labor Council, the list of supporting organisations included major and medium-sized construction companies; Comet and Metro Skills Training, ATSIC, Naamoro Employee Services, Western Sydney Aboriginal Corporation and the Eora Centre
Tobler told Workers Online there was something magic about the way those shy young men had bonded and worked together during the course. They encouraged each other when the tasks were difficult, ensuring that even those who'd started with very few skills completed the program successfully.
Even those, like Tommy Stewart, who'd previously worked at a variety of different jobs, was glad to hear about the course through the local CDP. He's now starting an apprenticeship as a bricklayer. Mark Smith heads to Jacksons' Landing. Dave Whitton has an apprenticeship with Bovis Lend Lease.
Andrew Pye - the 'quiet achiever' who took out the Award for Excellence -- has a job with De-Martin Gasparini.
All 14 students are ready to work in the construction industry or to go on to complete apprenticeships. The course has allowed them to obtain their Green Card induction into OHS standards and to gain basic skills in plan reading, carpentry, concreting and scaffolding, with tickets for hoist and forklift handling and driving and explosive tools operation.
Tobler is already receiving calls from other young Indigenous people keen to sign up for the program. "We want to build up this program and branch out into other areas," he says.
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