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Recent increases in female participation at the TAFE NSW Muswellbrook Mining Skills Program shows upturn in mining gender balance. 

Over recent years, female representation in the mining industry has been on the gradual incline with many programs and initiatives being implemented to champion equality and gender diversity. But there is still much work to be done.

At the end of last financial year only 16.7% of employees and 16.4% of key management personnel in the Australian mining industry were female, only a slight increase from the 14.8% in 2017.

However, the future is looking bright if the female to male ratio in the TAFE NSW Muswellbrook Mining Skills Program is any indication of progress. 

Over its 14 years the number of female participants has risen from 0 to 9 and this year they make up 29% of the class, which is almost double the industry average. 

“Resource companies are making considerable efforts to attract and retain women,” said TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Susie George.

“TAFE NSW fully supports this and takes pride in our role of teaching, mentoring and encouraging our female students to become well-qualified and confident industry participants.”

Hosted by Port Waratah Coal Services and employed by Programmed Training Services as a first-year electrical apprentice, 22-year-old Antonia Moncrieff is a student of the program. “My experience has been absolutely positive,” said Antonia.

“I haven’t observed any men versus women dynamic, in every interaction we’re just all working together to achieve a goal that benefits the company,” she added.?

Port Waratah Coal Services Chief Executive Officer Hennie du Plooy says they are committed to diversity and inclusion, fairness and equality but this commitment takes active leadership. Today, five of eleven senior leaders in its senior leadership team are female; three years ago, there was only one female in that team. 

“This is a result of Port Waratah purposefully engaging with our people, formalising the Diversity and Inclusion program and giving our Diversity and Inclusion Working Group authority to initiate projects and actively seeking out more diversity in our candidate pool when recruiting,” the CEO added.

Former student of the program and current second-year apprentice at BHP Mt Arthur Coal, 28-year-old Jennifer Chalker, added on the need for diversity in the industry, “If you are willing to learn and put in the effort you will gain the respect of your co-workers regardless of your gender or theirs.”

NSW Women in Mining Network co-chair and BHP Lead Corporate Affairs NSW, Deirdra Tindale, says increasing female participation in the sector has been found to significantly benefit mining companies and local communities.

Deirdra said, “We have seen that diversity delivers improved productivity results, greater access to talent, stronger employee retention and reduced employee turnover.”

“It is wonderful to hear that the TAFE NSW Muswellbrook Mining Skills Program is close to reaching a 1:3 ratio of males to females. This is positive progress and assists with working towards BHP’s aspirational goal of 50/50 gender balance by 2025.”

As organisations in the industry continue to push for a 50/50 gender balance, both men and women can look towards a positive future of equality and diversity in mining.

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