16 March 2020

Clontarf students consider local mining careers

The many mining career pathways were on display for a group of young men from the Clontarf Academy at Narrabri High School who recently visited Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri underground coal mine.

The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and by doing so, equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.

Whitehaven has worked with Clontarf through regional Employment Forums, hosting site visits, and, with the company’s support, Clontarf established an Academy at Narrabri High School in 2019. In 2020, there are 64 young men across years 7 to 12 participating in the program at Narrabri High, eight of whom came on the worksite visit to the Narrabri Mine.

“The team at Whitehaven provided a very informative overview of how underground mining works, and outlined the career opportunities available at the mine and the pathways to get there,” said Mick Riddle, Clontarf’s Regional Manager for Newcastle – North West.

“The young men also learned about how important safety is in a mining environment, so everyone can get home safe.”

In addition to learning about the mining operations, the group toured the surface infrastructure area and also visited an archaeological site where they saw groove markings from stone sharpening. They capped off the visit with a demonstration of some of the automated systems used within the mine, and had the chance to ask questions about the training and skills required for various jobs.

For Year 12 student Bailey Ballangarry, the visit gave him new ideas for what to do after graduating from high school.

“It was great to get an inside look at the mine here. I have been weighing up a career in the Australian Defence Force when I finish school but I’m definitely now considering staying home and going for a trade in the mining industry,” said Bailey.

“The Clontarf Foundation’s focus on encouraging young people to start thinking about their post-school plans is invaluable,” added Bob Sutherland, Whitehaven Coal’s Aboriginal Community Relations Manager.

“Local Indigenous employment is a priority for us at Whitehaven so it’s great to be able to work with Clontarf to give young Indigenous people an insight into our industry, to help get them job-ready once they do leave school.”

Whitehaven’s work with the Clontarf Foundation is just one part of its work to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous people around its operations. Whitehaven also partners with the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Children and Family Centre in Gunnedah, which supports families and younger children, and the Girls Academy at Gunnedah High School, which aims to improve Year 12 graduation rates amongst young Indigenous women.

This approach goes beyond employment, to provide holistic support for local Indigenous children and their families regardless of whether they form part of the Whitehaven workforce.

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