BHP Billiton took out a series of awards at the Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) Indigenous Awards night for its commitment to training and employing indigenous people.

BHP Coal Indigenous Relations Manager Paul Travers was awarded Indigenous Advocacy Champion for his work with the company on its traineeship and Myuma program.

“It’s very nice to be recognised by industry as someone who is helping drive the indigenous policy agenda within the resources sector, but really the award for me is more a company award. I think it reflects more the values BHP Billiton Coal brings to the area of indigenous relations,” he said.

BHP Coal has been operating an 18-month indigenous training program since 2011 as well as the six-week Myuma program, which provides trainees with an immersive site experience prior to commencing
their traineeship.

“We recognise as a company that diversity drives performance across all our operations, so we are committed to increasing the numbers of our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander employees,” Mr Travers said.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) was also recognised by the QRC for its efforts to recruit more indigenous people to its Queensland operations.

The company’s Indigenous Recruitment Strategy has a target to see at least five per cent of indigenous employees across its operations, with indigenous people now making up 44 per cent of BMA’s trainee intake.

BMA Head of Human Resources Sonia Lewis said indigenous employment at the company’s Daunia Mine had already reached 4.75 per cent and she was confident other operations would soon come close to the target.

“A key aspect of the strategy was direct engagement by the BMA recruitment team with indigenous people, including traditional owner groups across south-east Queensland and the Cairns region as well as other stakeholders, most importantly Queensland’s Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships,” Ms Lewis said at the awards night.

“There has been a quantum shift in how indigenous recruitment is viewed. Supervisors and managers who have come into contact and worked with indigenous recruits are keen to recruit more.

“The impact has been immediate and bodes well for the continued development and expansion of BMA’s indigenous workforce.”

BHP’s Myuma program, overseen by Colin Saltmere, also took out the Exceptional Indigenous Business award.

Myuma is a work readiness program owned and operated by indigenous people and aims to prepare trainees for the realities of working on a minesite.

“It’s very much run as a minesite facility. People live in minesite-style accommodation, they work to rosters, they’re up at six in the morning, they get rostered days off, safety is critical and they familiarise themselves with machinery,” Mr Travers said.

“It’s also quite remote, so it gets people used to living away from home in a minesite-style environment.”

BHP’s indigenous recruitment strategy will go up for review in 2016 when the company examines how it can improve its current Queensland programs as well as expand its capacity to New South Wales.

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