Everybody is a winner in latest program

By Charmayne Allison

A TRAINING program equipping indigenous jobseekers and helping local industry meet the region’s booming infrastructure demands has come to Cummeragunja.

The Civil Construction and Plant Operation Project, which launched in 2017 through a Work for the Dole program, aims to connect working-age indigenous Australians with sustainable jobs.

The project offers a Certificate 3 in civil construction plant operations and a short skillset course, and is the collective brainchild of local jobactive providers CVGT, MADEC and Sureway Employment and Training.

And out of the past three courses, has reported a staggering 100 per cent employment rate.

“That's indicative of the quality of training and the support jobactive providers have given local jobseekers,” Sureway Goulburn Murray and Riverina area manager Scott Thomson said.

The idea for the program initially came out of a desire to connect with the Cummeragunja community.

“Since then it's morphed into a training program designed to maximise employment opportunities for local jobactive and Disability Employment Services (DES) providers,” he said.

“It also aims to help local industry meet new procurement targets for construction locally, as we experience a big infrastructure boom in regional Victoria and New South Wales.

“Contracts like the Echuca Moama Bridge project and other Regional Roads upgrades have paved an opportunity for us to work with the community to get employment outcomes.”

The short Skills Uplift program runs five days a week over five weeks and gives participants tickets to drive front-end loaders, skid-steer loaders and road rollers.

While the Certificate 3, run out of Cummeragunja by registered training organisation 1 Stop Driving School, also includes six months practical experience.

“This allows participants to get the operational hours industries require to have that experience on a machine, not just a shiny new ticket,” Mr Thomson said.

“It also aims to help the local lands council clean up the community in the process, including the Cummeragunja playpark which now looks brilliant.”

Mr Thomson said the success of the program was largely thanks to support from several government departments including the Prime Minister and Cabinet's office, who have subsidised the cost of hiring and running the machines.
And the outcomes have made every cent invested worthwhile.

“We've been really lucky with employment, with Murray River Council working hard to take on two of our participants locally and Shepparton Council also on board,” he said.

“We have some guys down with Exalt Labor Solutions in Melbourne working on the metro tunnel project. We also have guys working with local contractors.

“Plus we've even found participants going into other industry areas because they're engaged and just want employment.”
And the program is already having an impact on the next generation.

“We're seeing parents that have come in through the program getting employment and we're now getting sons and daughters knocking on our doors saying they want to be involved,” Mr Thomson said.

“This is such an incredible outcome of the program that could lead to real, lasting change.”