The 2012 Premier’s awards acknowledged this growth in community engagement in the mining and energy sector. Also highly commended by the awards were PepinNini Minerals, Iluka Resources and Leighton Contractors for their local employment and community initiatives, especially in remote parts of the State. These companies have recognised that isolation and socio-economic factors are influencing factors on employment opportunities for indigenous workers and educational outcomes of children living in remote rural areas.
Initiatives such as Iluka’s ‘Talks in Schools’ program and PepinNini’s sponsorship of the South Australian Museum “Out of the Glass” roadshow are examples of how mining companies are changing this by delivering social benefits to disadvantaged outback communities. “It was well worth our involvement just to see the enthusiasm of the school children learning and wanting to know about things out of their normal understanding and experience,” PepinNini says.
Leighton Contractors’ local teams in South Australia are involved in mentoring and supporting indigenous businesses. The company has also mapped a pathway of initiatives to improve Indigenous participation and engagement, which is already translating to social benefits in remote communities.
OZ Minerals, winner of the Excellence in Social Inclusion Award for the second year, was commended for its ongoing commitment to promoting employment and social development opportunities at its Prominent Hill copper-gold mine near Coober Pedy.
The company employs a full-time Indigenous Liaison Officer based at the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in the State’s Far North to provide support to more than 100 Aboriginal staff, many of whom have benefitted from the company’s pre-employment training and language, literacy and numeracy programs - through to the mining technician’s course.
OZ Minerals Managing Director Terry Burgess said engaging with the community and workforce was pivotal to the success of the company’s business. “We believe that creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome, including both men and women, and people of all generations and cultures, is a contributing factor to the success of OZ Minerals,” Mr Burgess said.
The company is also focussed on boosting female representation in its workforce. Since setting formal management goals, the company has achieved a minimum of 25 per cent female representation in four of six job bands as well as appointing the first female non-executive director in 2010.
Professional development programs within the company also are helping women to move into key decision-making roles. An example of this is the Leading My Career pilot program – a new partnership between Oz Minerals and Beach Energy for high performing women within both companies. Aimee Chadwick, a senior commercial analyst at OZ Minerals, said the program had provided her with invaluable tools to proactively manage her career.
Ms Chadwick has partnered with senior executive mentor, Beach Energy’s Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Presser, to “soundboard goals and establish positive career plans”.
“I now have a better understanding of my strengths and have identified areas for further professional development. The program has also been a great platform to expand professional networks both within and outside the organisation,’’ Ms Chadwick said.
Santos took out honours for Excellence in Supporting Community Participation in recognition of its wide range of corporate-social partnerships and activities.
Santos Community and Corporate Responsibility Manager Stuart Symons said Santos’ corporate volunteer program saw hundreds of the company’s employees participate in education and training, youth, cultural, environmental, indigenous and health programs to give something back to the communities in which it worked.
“We see this as a way to build our employees’ leadership skills, morale and a ‘one team’ culture, while recognising that with the depth and variety of expertise in our organisation, our employees have much to contribute for the public good,” Mr Symons said.
“The involvement of our staff in mentoring young people through The Smith Family strengthens their leadership and problem-solving skills, and generates a real sense of pride in making a difference.”
Its community participation includes support for the Aboriginal Power Cup and the Yalari school program, both of which aim to improve education, training and employment pathways for young indigenous people. Santos also is providing $3 million over six years to the Common Ground program, which is helping to break the cycle of homelessness in Adelaide and Port Augusta.
The Aboriginal Power Cup, initiated as a result of State Government funding, has grown as a result of the support received from Santos, according to Darren Adamson, General Manager - Power Community Ltd. “It was not just the injection of funds from Santos but the three-year commitment which allowed us to plan for the future and evolve the program.
Mr Adamson said Santos had shown it was “sincere in developing relationships with young Aboriginal students through its support which went well beyond just sponsorship of the Aboriginal Power Cup.
“Students from the program are now employed at Santos in school-based apprenticeships, and there is involvement of Santos staff in the program.
Santos staff have acted as goal umpires throughout the football carnival, and have also provided mock interviews to students to assist in their preparation for the workforce,” he said.
Santos employee James Fiebig, who volunteers for events sponsored by Santos throughout the year, said volunteering allowed him “to make a small difference in the community”.