Whitehaven Coal celebrated NAIDOC Week in style with the launch of its first Indigenous truck tray design and hi-vis personal protective equipment (PPE) during an event at its Maules Creek mine.
The tray and PPE feature Emu prints designed by local Aboriginal artist, Ronny Long, who has strong cultural ties to the region. The design includes a message in Gomeroi language reminding everyone on site about the importance of safety – Maaru Yunawaaya, which translates to Go well, be safe.
Ronny attended the launch event and said he was thrilled to see his design featuring so prominently on site.
“I am so proud that Aboriginal people and culture are being represented at Whitehaven. It’s been eight years since I created this artwork and it’s fantastic to see it living on permanently through the truck and PPE design.”
The tray and PPE are new initiatives as part of Whitehaven’s third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). A key objective of the RAP is to embed and strengthen the company’s initiatives and activities to make them ‘business as usual’, with the inclusion of an Indigenous design in every day equipment an important part of this.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees make up 11.8% of Whitehaven’s workforce, with some of them joining Ronny at the launch event alongside maintenance crews, mine managers and members of Whitehaven’s leadership team.
Whitehaven’s Executive General Manager – Operations, Ian Humphris, praised the Indigenous design and highlighted the efforts of the maintenance crews to ready the tray for use.
“The tray itself weighs over 38,000 kgs and parts of it were transported from Schlam’s manufacturing yard in WA, so it was quite a logistical challenge for our people to put it together,” Ian added.
“They did a great job and it looks fantastic – I know all of our teams are incredibly excited to put it to use while wearing their brand new PPE.
“The launch of these two initiatives is a significant milestone for Whitehaven and it reflects our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and recognising the significant contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our business.
“We’re proud to be playing a role in supporting Indigenous people in our community, whether it be through employment, procurement, education or health and wellbeing. NAIDOC Week is a great time to come together and reflect on how we can continue to build stronger families and futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future.”
Also at the Maules Creek event, Whitehaven presented its RAP Champion Awards for the first time. The awards recognise the efforts of a community member and a Whitehaven employee toward supporting and encouraging the development, growth and enhancement of relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the company and the Aboriginal community.
This year’s community recipient is Crockett Moodie from local Narrabri business, Wambali. Crockett earned the award through his commitment to providing opportunities for young Aboriginal people to engage in land management issues as part of his work with Whitehaven’s property team.
Mark Irwin, Maintenance Manager at Maules Creek, collected the Whitehaven employee award for his immense contributions in support of Aboriginal initiatives at Whitehaven, helping to promote and foster inclusiveness and reconciliation. Mark has earned a reputation for giving up his time to develop the capacity of local Aboriginal businesses that are making their way in the mining industry, such as Mechlec.
Both winners received a plaque from Aboriginal Steel Art, which featured a glossy black cockatoo feather mounted alongside the Gomeroi word for the glossy black cockatoo which is Bilirr. In Gomeroi culture, Bilirr represents the coming of good times.