1 October 2020

Fostering understanding and trust at Maules Creek

16 leaders at Whitehaven Coal’s largest mine, Maules Creek, have recently undertaken in-depth cultural awareness training tailored for individuals in management roles.

Cultural awareness training is a core commitment in the company’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and aims to foster a workplace that encourages shared understanding and respect through listening and practical learning.

Approximately 20% of the workforce at Maules Creek identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and in addition to those who participated in this in-depth training, more than 1900 members of the workforce have completed the cultural awareness component of the Whitehaven induction process throughout 2020 so far.

The training was conducted by Whitehaven’s Aboriginal Community Relations team in partnership with Gomeroi Traditional Owner Greg Griffiths, and CEO of the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Family and Children Centre and Chairperson of the Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wayne Griffiths.

Participants learned an in-depth history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within the local Gunnedah area, and also were given an overview of relevant legislative frameworks including the Native Title Act and NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

The highlight, however, was an immersive on-country cultural experience travelling to various local Aboriginal cultural heritage sites associated with the story of the Red Chief, which connects the local Aboriginal community to country.

“Red Chief was a warrior for the Gunnedah Gomeroi people and I like to reinforce with the participants in the cultural awareness training that they need to be the warriors for their family,” said Greg.

“Cultural awareness training has a far reaching effect on participants. Communication, relationships and connection are strong themes through this training. We ask participants to think of the single most important thing in their lives and the overwhelming response is family – this highlights the importance of communication in building connections and friendships so our families prosper,” added Wayne.

“I believe it’s important to learn about Aboriginal culture from Aboriginal people to ensure we have a positive future together, and this in-depth training gave me the opportunity to better understand the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Gunnedah area,” said training participant David Gonzalez.

In addition to workforce training, Whitehaven invests in a range of practical measures as outlined in the company’s RAP, which sets ambitious Indigenous employment targets and focuses on addressing disadvantage through initiatives in early childhood education and support, schooling, and skills development.

Delivering cultural awareness training to the senior management team at the Maules Creek mine is also a commitment under a work health and safety (WHS) enforceable undertaking entered into with Regional NSW arising from an alleged WHS contravention at the Maules Creek Coal Mine on 21 April 2018.

Pictured: Cultural awareness training participants.

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