We work in partnership with Indigenous people connected to the land where we operate
We aim to work together to address disadvantage and help create stronger families and futures for Indigenous people in North West NSW and in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
Our approach is specifically designed to be intergenerational in nature. We have oriented our focus towards addressing Indigenous disadvantage through initiatives in the areas of early childhood education and support, schooling, skills development and employment.
This holistic approach provides intergenerational support for children and their families, our employees and prospective employees, so local Indigenous people see their immediate needs being addressed, in addition to creating the socio-economic preconditions for future generations to grow and prosper.
Our Indigenous Employment Strategy helps transform and empower the lives of local Indigenous men and women through meaningful and well-paid work. In 2015, we set an ambitious target of 10% of our workforce at Maules Creek, our newest and largest mine, identifying as Indigenous. We have exceeded that target every year since, and now around 20% of our Maules Creek workforce identifies as Indigenous. Across our broader workforce, around 9% identify as Indigenous.
However our approach goes beyond developing opportunities for employment; our investment aims to ensure local Indigenous people have the self-esteem and confidence to shape more positive futures. The practical measures we invest in are outlined in our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, launched in mid-2018.
of our people identify as Indigenous
in wages flowing back into communities through members of our workforce who identify as Indigenous in FY21
spent with 14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in FY21
Our engagement with First Nations people is built around the principles of respect, unity and historical acceptance, and a belief that mining should empower First Nations peoples’ and support their rights to pursue cultural and socio-economic fulfilment.
Our approach is oriented to making a practical and meaningful contribution to addressing disadvantage among First Nations people through targeted investment in health, education and skills development.
We are the largest private sector employer of First Nations people in regional NSW. Around 9% of our workforce identifies as First Nations people and at Maules Creek, our largest mine, the proportion is around 20%.
We support the preservation of cultural heritage by recognising and respecting the importance of the depth of knowledge of sites, places and objects that are significant to telling the story of First Nations ancient and abiding association with Australia.
Our heritage surveys are conducted in partnership with Traditional Owners and cultural knowledge holders from local communities to identify and protect areas and objects of significance consistent with our statutory obligations and in consultation with local First Nations people.
We want to create and sustain an inclusive and knowledgeable workplace where our workforce understand and respect the importance of the connection of First Nations people to the land. Our work is supported by cultural awareness training which is delivered to all new employees and contractors by First Nations people connected to the land where we operate.
We engage with First Nations people to ensure we understand expectations around the management of cultural areas of significance. Management measures such as cultural heritage management plans are in place to meet our commitments in-line with agreements and legislative approvals.
Management practices informed by respect for culture and knowledge support both recognition of culturally significant heritage and responsible minerals development.
It is important for cultural heritage and mining to co-exist in Australia and we are committed to working with First Nations people, the government and industry to achieve the best outcomes.
Whitehaven supports improvements to native title and state and territory land rights regimes that support efficiency, stability and economic opportunity. Frameworks should be practically-focused with changes supported by adequate resourcing to achieve intended mutually beneficial outcomes.
Supporting Indigenous health and education
We partner with programs that help people in our communities access health and education services. A key partner is the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in Gunnedah and Narrabri, which has been able to help more children get to and from school, and help families access medical care, thanks to two minibuses purchased by Whitehaven Coal. With our support, Winanga-Li has been able to expand its operations into Lightning Ridge and Brewarrina.
We also support the Girls’ Academy at Gunnedah High School, which aims to increase school attendance, advance academic and personal achievement, improve Year 12 graduation rates, and facilitate post-school transition planning. Each year, around 50 girls from years 7 to 12 benefited and school attendance rates increased from 72% to 85% over the years. In December 2020, the federal government contract with the Girls Academy was not renewed and a new provider was appointed. While Gunnedah High School has decided to place its participation on hold in 2021, we continue to work with the school and others to identify an alternative initiative to support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our region.
We’ve also supported the establishment of a Clontarf Academy, which uses football as a means to help keep young Indigenous boys and men in school, at Narrabri High School.
Partnering with the Clontarf Foundation
The Clontarf Foundation aims to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Indigenous boys and men, using football as a means to attract, reward and help keep them in school. Since 2000, the Foundation has grown to more than 9,700 Indigenous students participating in programs across the country.
Whitehaven Coal has been working with the Clontarf Foundation since 2016, engaging with students from the Clontarf Academies at Tamworth and Quirindi through regional Employment Forums and site visits to demonstrate the diverse range of rewarding mining career opportunities. In 2019, with our support of $120,000 over three years, Clontarf has established an academy at Narrabri High School, with 75 participating students.
Engagement with the Barada Barna People in Queensland
Following the acquisition of the Winchester South Project in mid-2018, one of the first stakeholder groups we reached out to was the Barada Barna People. The Barada Barna People are the Traditional Owners of the land in central Queensland where the Winchester South Project is located. In FY19 we entered into a Cultural Heritage Management Plan agreement with the Barada Barna – the first agreement we entered into for the Winchester South Project.
Reconciliation Action Plan - consultation
Our draft Stretch RAP 2021-2024 outlines how we intend to continue to promote Reconciliation, through a range of specific actions and deliverables, within our sphere of influence. We encourage stakeholders to review our draft RAP and provide any feedback or comment to Bob Sutherland, Manager Aboriginal Community Relations, on (02) 6741 9315 or email@example.com by Friday 26 November 2021.
Reconciliation Action Plan
In 2018, we launched a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), building upon the objectives and actions in its predecessor RAP launched in 2015. Our RAP operates across all areas of the business and looks to address issues affecting local Indigenous people through a range of practical and meaningful measures. Our commitment focuses on three areas: health and education, employment and procurement. Whether in school, starting out in or re-entering the workforce, or raising a family, our aim is to make a real difference in the lives of local Indigenous people.
Read our Reconciliation Action Plan here.
Gomeroi Narrabri People Charitable Trust Fund
The Gomeroi Narrabri People Charitable Trust Fund was created in 2017 after Narrabri Coal, a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal, entered into a Native Title agreement with the Gomeroi Narrabri People. The trust funds are to be used for the benefit of Indigenous Australians, including the Gomeroi Narrabri people, located in the Narrabri Shire, in support of the Gomeroi Narrabri Aboriginal Corporation’s vision to be an “effective enterprise that sustains and nurtures out culture, education, employment and our kids.”