The opportunity to work on HEART, a 12 week pilot employment training program for Yolngu men and women from Homeland communities in north-east Arnhem Land was incredible. Working with families, the participants, Traditional Owners, Elders, employers and along the way, a growing number of supporters, was humbling, exciting and so very different.
The Program was held from June to September 2015 in four distinct and integrated stages all focussed on employment training and work placement. Fifteen men and five women completed the program. Along with their experiences, participants gained a Certificate I in Resource and Infrastructure Operations, many were also awarded their First Aid and White Card in Construction certification.
There were many new aspects to HEART, the most significant was taking training to the Homelands. Participants wanted to share a little of their journey and tell a wider audience about some of their challenges, what they learnt, what they valued and what they hope for. Participants were interviewed and recorded while on Work Placement at Gulkala, Stage 3 of the program, eight weeks in. Sixteen of the 20 contributed and collectively they agreed to speak in English (not their first language) so their experiences could be told to people well beyond north-east Arnhem Land.
This is their story:
Our work has also been documented in the Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues Vol 19 No 4 Dec 2016 pp 58 – 81 Dec 2016 pp 58 – 81.