Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation has provided an overview of its services and range of businesses through which it promotes Indigenous employment.  

Chief Executive Officer Steve Sonneman told PHIC’s Community Industry Forum this month the corporation’s mission was to establish and maintain an environment that benefits Aboriginal people through the creation of culturally appropriate employment, enterprise opportunities and the provision of education and training services throughout the Pilbara.  

About 40 per cent of its funding came from Government sources and about 60 per cent from its various enterprises.  

The businesses include:  

  • Ownership and operation of the Auski Munjina Village between Port Hedland and Newman.  
  • Yurrama Water – sells branded water Statewide with profits going to direct employment for Indigenous youth, with a follow up Containers for Change service which collects containers from mining operations. In and around Tom Price about seven million containers have been diverted from landfill, and about 60 jobs created at a recycling facility.  
  • Ash Maintenance – building maintenance, air-conditioning cleaning, and test and tag services.  
  • Ashburton Distribution and Logistics  
  • Onslow Tyre Service – Started as a training program and is now a diversified business.  
  • Ashoil – Supplier of diesel, renewable fuel biodiesel, and diesel and biodiesel blends.  
  • Ashmulla Pastoral Company  

Through the Work Development Program, the AAC helps job seekers on unemployment benefits working through barriers to find employment.   

“We are the only provider operating employment services via the Federal Government’s Community Development Program in the Pilbara,” Steve said.   

“There are a lot of barriers to employment including lack of housing, alcohol and drug use, trauma, literacy and numeracy and lack of drivers’ licences.  

“We work with about 2600 job seekers across the Pilbara.   

“The services could include obtaining a birth certificate, which may seem trivial but it’s not because sometimes birth places and names are not recorded, and other forms of identification are needed to get a job.”  

Other services included assistance with job applications, interview preparation, provision of suitable clothing, and resume and cover letter assistance.    

“When we put someone in employment, we want them to stay in employment so we do everything we can to keep them there, by working with them and the employer,” Steve said.  

“We understand that employers are taking a risk on someone who hasn’t worked in the industry or doesn’t know if they are suited, so under a paid work experience scheme we can cover wages and insurance and support the employer to give someone an opportunity for work.  

“About 75 per cent of people who go into work experience are offered a job. That’s a new initiative we started in November last year.”   

Employers may be eligible for an $11,000 payment if the worker is still employed after 26 weeks.   

Steve said that since January, about $275,000 had been paid to Port Hedland businesses as incentives for taking on workers, with 132 jobs seekers placed into work.  

Other services include driver training, including in remote communities, for standard vehicles and trucks.  

The Truck Driving Academy followed the successful introduce of the Learn 2 Drive program.  

More information is available here