Whitehaven Coal in partnership with respected local Indigenous people and Elders continues to share local Indigenous culture and history with its workforce.
Whitehaven Coal employees were last year given the opportunity to participate in personalised on-country cultural immersion and face to face cultural awareness training.
Opening up a platform to create cultural awareness within the workforce, employees were keen to get on board and invest their time into the program.
Additionally, more than 1,800 contractors and new staff completed the cultural awareness component of the Whitehaven induction process throughout 2019.
This year the training was conducted in partnership with the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Family and Children Centre and led by Elder and Centre Manager Wayne Griffiths.
Wayne spoke to Whitehaven staff about the work of the Winanga-Li in Aboriginal communities across North West NSW and the history of Gambu Ganuurru, an Aboriginal leader in the Gunnedah region in the 18th century. Staff also visited some important local sites referenced in the historical account of Gambu Ganuurru.
Among the new faces at this year’s training was Jorge Moraga, General Manager of the Maules Creek Mine. Jorge said it was an invaluable experience to engage with local history that has significance for his job on a daily basis.
“It was a great day of learning and an important step to fostering inclusion and diversity in our business and across our mine sites. Listening to local Elders and standing on significant cultural sites has a direct effect on how we interact with one another. Having that knowledge builds trust and respect,” said Jorge.
“It also helps create a better working culture and an inclusive workplace. This helps us all make better, more informed and more considered decisions.”
Aboriginal Community Relations Manager Bob Sutherland said the training resonated with those who attended.
“Gomeroi culture is alive and well in our local Indigenous communities. Cultural awareness training is pivotal in providing people with local contacts and hearing the stories that reflect where the Gomeroi people are from and the aspirations they have for their children and their community,” Bob said.
In addition to annual workforce training, Whitehaven partners with programs that assist local Indigenous people access health and education services. This includes supporting the Winanga-Li, which has helped more children get to and from school and families access medical care, and the Girls’ Academy at Gunnedah High School, which aims to increase school attendance and improve Year 12 graduation rates.