Industry News, Skills and training

WesTrac supports Fairbridge Bindjareb training program

Leading Australian Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is lending its support to the Fairbridge Bindjareb program, which is an initiative that is successfully helping incarcerated Indigenous men to find work and turn their lives around.

WesTrac has long provided CAT equipment for use by the Perth-based program, and in more recent times, has been running training days for participants and providing training for instructions, as well as introducing contracting firms to the scheme.

“WesTrac’s increased commitment to the Fairbridge Bindjareb program is a reflection of the outstandingly positive results it has achieved,” said Jarvas Croome, WesTrac WA chief executive.

“More than 90 per cent of participants finish the scheme and more than 40 per cent of recent graduates have gone on to find work. By the end of the program, they have a real direction and self-belief.”

A joint initiative of the WA Department of Justice, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and youth training organisation Fairbridge, the Bindjareb program was established in 2010 and aims to break the vicious circle Indigenous men can fall into when they enter custody.

Fairbridge helps to correct this by providing minimum-security prisoners based at Karnet Prison Farm the chance to train for jobs in the mining and local government sectors ahead of their release.

Between 10-12 participants at a time go through a 14-week course where they undergo intensive training and mentoring in order to gain relevant trade qualifications.

“We aim to give people a hand-up, not a hand-out,” said Brett Hawthorn, programs manager.

“We want them to leave here with new cultural, life and work knowledge, plus the support network they need to make sustainable change in their lives.”

According to Bindjareb trainer and mentor George Miles, participants leave the prison each day and learn the skills, commitment and professionalism necessary to operate plant equipment including graders, loaders, skid steers, watercarts and side tippers.

“At the moment, we have a CAT 14M grader and a 930 loader from WesTrac that the guys are doing training on,” Miles added.

“Because WesTrac supplies these free of charge, the guys are able to get lots of time on the equipment and really get a good understanding of them. That’s not something we could do if we had to hire it.”

As part of the course, participants also spend a full-day at WesTrac’s WA headquarters at Guildford. They get a tour of the warehouse and inventory system and a chance to learn about and operate state-of-the-art CAT equipment at the Demonstrational Learning Centre.

“The confidence that WesTrac and other supporters show in the participants has a transformational effect on them,” Miles continued.

“They are different people by the end of the course. We get to hear about some of them getting married, buying themselves a nice car, a house, and taking photos with their new-borns.

“Some have long criminal histories, and at the end of the course, they come out and say I’m never going back there.”

Darren Hall, WesTrac Used Equipment & Rental business manager, says the scheme has also created a positive buzz within WesTrac, with employees keen to get involved and help out.

“The team at WesTrac get a real sense of personal achievement and accomplishment from interacting with the guys and sharing their knowledge. So WesTrac gets something out of hosting them as well. And the next step for WesTrac may be to take on a course graduate.

“At the last graduation I attended, I brought down a couple of our HR team. So, we’re looking at future possibilities of being able to employ one of them too.”

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