A pilot program developed by Charles Darwin University (CDU), councils, job network providers and a local language centre will provide 18 months full-time employment to nine Indigenous men at the Tennant Creek Town Council.
The program is significant for its approach to training and the extensive support offered to participants who are working as trainees.
CDU, Papulu Apparr Kari (Language Centre), Julalikari Council and Alpurrurulam Council as well as the two Job Network providers – Julalikari Remote Employment Services (JRES) and ITEC – are involved in a shared responsibility agreement (SRA).
The SRA is a voluntary agreement between governments and Indigenous communities to provide discretionary funding in return for community obligations.
The SRA was organised via the Department of Environment and Workplace Relations’ (DEWR) Indigenous Coordination Centre at Tennant Creek.
Bob Piper, CDU lecturer at the Katherine Rural College taught skills in correctly operating outdoor equipment and workplace safety.
He said the students were keen participants in the program.
'They picked skills up quickly and were enthusiastic to get in and give it a go,' he said. 'The course also taught them about team work and the need to help each other.'
Louise Riddell, manager of Organisational Development at the Tennant Creek Council said the program may be a first for any council across Australia.
'I believe this is the first time such a program has been run in local government and it has been a learning curve for all involved,' she said. 'We haven't been able to find examples of this approach by other councils so believe this is breaking new ground.'
Developing pride and highlighting success was an important part of the program.
Louise said the men had never worked a regular job so the training included the basics of punctuality, consistency and basic work values.
'These are not kids out of school but adult men who have never been in that work pattern so it's an important program,' she said. 'But with the support of the local community and council and their enthusiasm, we hope to see some positive results.'