With the Supply Nation gala held last week and the new government reform to grow Indigenous businesses, Indigenous employment is currently in the national spotlight. However, while Australia overall has seen an increase in employment as of January 2017, concerns that approximately only 46 per cent of Indigenous people aged 15 and over are participating in the work force still loom over many individuals and families.
Transport for NSW is just one of a number of organisations who are committed to closing the employment gap and diversifying their workplace. A descendant of Dhungutti mob from Kempsey, Brittini Cameron (née Ritchie), spoke to NITV about how she came to her current role at Transport NSW and the benefits and skills that she is learning.
Brittini grew up in Campbelltown and decided to head straight into the workforce, taking on a role at the Waranwarin Tharawal Child and Family Centre. After taking some time off on maternity leave, now with a young family, she found that her priorities and needs had shifted and that her career would need to help her meet them.
"Whilst working with Waranwarin, I was looking for something secure and more permanent. I went to Yarn'n Aboriginal Employment Services and found out about the VET Cadet role with Transport NSW. I knew it would offer security and help me to provide for my family. Not only that - transport is such a big company, everybody uses it, so I thought it would be a great opportunity."
Brittini has been a part of the Safety, Quality, Environment and Risk Team as a VET Cadet at Transport NSW for 14 months, working closely with the department director as an assistant, covering a maternity leave position. The role requires a commute of 40 minutes by train and there is flexibility in the hours. "The commute is fine for me and the hours are really good. It’s very flexible and works for me - I’ve chosen the hours 7am-3pm, so I can get out early. I have a two year old daughter, so being able to get home early to her is very convenient."
Starting in a new role can be intimidating but Brittini feels that she has always had support when issues have arisen. "Our managers are always approachable and available to help. Especially being someone in the team with the least experience, sometimes you get a little shy and you don’t want to ask for help, you want to make it look like you know what you are doing - but there's never been a time I haven’t been able to feel comfortable or couldn’t seek that help."
"I've also been doing a lot of work in the health and wellbeing space, organising events and initiatives that align with what the strategic plan is. Last year I planned the Rail R U Ok? Day for all the staff in the rail industry and will be doing that again this year."
As well as administrative experience, Brittini has been able to learn skills in a particular area of interest, "I've also been doing a lot of work in the health and wellbeing space, organising events and initiatives that align with what the strategic plan is. Last year I planned the Rail R U Ok? Day for all the staff in the rail industry and will be doing that again this year. We do a morning tea and get a speaker from Beyond Blue across various locations. I'm also organising Red 25 which is a blood donation program, where I'll be getting people to come in and promote it and sign employees up."
After showing skill and initiative in this particular area, Brittini has been put in charge of setting up a unique health and wellbeing program specifically for the VET Cadets, which is in the initial planning stages. "Currently we have set up some time to sit down and work out what it is that our VET cadets want and need so we can put together a program where we will all benefit. Once we get a better understanding of where the main areas of concern are, such as health checks, nutrition workshops, we will put together a proposal for the year ahead and ask for funding."
As an Aboriginal VET Cadet, there are cultural needs and times of the year that are important and Transport NSW is taking initiative in these areas. "There is definitely support and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within my team. We celebrate NAIDOC week, and get a special leave day on NAIDOC. If family issues arise, they are very supportive of our need to be there for family, they know if anything is wrong in our team, family is number one. They are very supportive of that."
"There is definitely support and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within my team. We celebrate NAIDOC week, and get a special leave day on NAIDOC. If family issues arise, they are very supportive of our need to be there for family, they know if anything is wrong in our team, family is number one. They are very supportive of that."
When the director of Safety, Quality, Environment and Risk found out that Brittini was Aboriginal, he took on the role of being in charge of increasing Indigenous participation within the sector. "There are around 35 Indigenous VET Cadets at the moment and they are hiring and expanding more and more."
Brittini has her eye on some long term goals and has been able to access education and training opportunities to help her on the path. "I’ve already done my Certificate III in Safety, and they are looking at putting me through my diploma. So I definitely see myself continuing in a position doing that, and also within health and wellbeing. I really like planning those kinds of events and like the initiative so I’m hoping I can stay in a similar role."
For anyone considering a role within Transport NSW, Brittini is encouraging. "Definitely go for it. For myself personally, it’s been an amazing experience and I love it."
For information on careers at Transport for NSW, go here.
NITV has partnered with Transport for NSW to inform Indigenous Australians of the organisation's employment opportunities.