The extraordinary talent among the Queensland resources sector’s First Nations workforce has been recognised at the Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) 2023 Indigenous Awards in Brisbane.
Danielle Kyle, a Birri-Gubba, Bwgcolman woman and Indigenous Liaison Officer at South32’s Cannington Mine and Kalkadoon man Matthew Body, a Plant Technical Operator with Glencore Queensland Metals in Mount Isa, have been named joint winners of this year’s Exceptional Indigenous Person in Queensland Resources Award.
Raised on Palm Island, Danielle has been working in Queensland’s resources sector since 2007 with South32 and has become a fierce advocate to increase employment opportunities for both Indigenous people and women.
She established several programs to achieve that goal including an Indigenous Work Experience Program and Indigenous Networking Group to create career pathways for First Nations’ people in the company.
Danielle’s work has seen the number of First Nations’ people employed at Cannington Mine double in the past 12 months alone.
Matthew Body is a proud Indigenous member of the Mount Isa community where he has worked in the resources sector since 2005.
Described by his co-workers as a dedicated and high-achieving employee, Matthew has led and completed projects that have entrenched his value as a contributor to Glencore Queensland Metals’ copper smelter operations.
This year’s winner of the Indigenous Advocacy in Queensland Resources award is Brisbane-based Human Resources Manager, Chandel Eyre, from Petros Solutions Australia.
Chandel is a Kamilaroi woman with a multi-cultural background who has worked with Indigenous communities throughout her career, including founding the charity Empowering Community Strategy to support the link between the resources sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane congratulated all award winners as leading examples of the workforce behind Queensland’s resources sector that contributed $94.6 billion to the state economy in 2021/22.
“Danielle, Matthew and Chandel are making outstanding contributions to improving employment opportunities for Indigenous people in the resources sector by demonstrating that a diverse workforce is a stronger workforce,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“While the resources sector is committed to increasing participation rates even further, I’m very pleased to see the progress being made by QRC member companies to equitably reflect the communities in which we operate.”
The QRC’s latest figures show that in 2020-21, First Nations people represent 5.3 per cent of the resources sector workforce compared to 4.6 per cent of the population.
In the five years since 2016-17, there was a 73 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous employees working in resources, with nearly a third of the Indigenous workforce female.
In the past financial year, resources companies spent a record $94 million with Indigenous businesses, representing a 13.4 per cent increase.
The average wage paid to Indigenous employees has risen a staggering 42 per cent to reach $172 thousand, reflecting the increased skill level of Indigenous workers and the number now in leadership roles.
Encouragingly, the industry survey found one in nine Indigenous employees were enrolled in an apprenticeship or traineeship, which bodes well for the resources sector’s future skilled workforce.
“The resources sector is proudly the largest private employer of Indigenous men and women in Queensland, and we hope these awards will inspire more First Nations’ people into one of the many rewarding careers available,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“Resources companies across Queensland are actively encouraging Indigenous people into their workforces, particularly in regional and remote areas where they operate.
“The QRC’s educational arm, the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) is also playing an important role in introducing Indigenous school students to the apprenticeships and traineeships available in mining that can set them on the path to a prosperous career.”
The QRC thanks Event Partner, Evolution Mining, and sponsors Jellinbah Group, South32, Stanmore Resources, Hatch, Hastings Deering, Peabody Energy, Anglo American, Sandvik, Thiess, Bravus Mining & Resources, Coronado Global Resources and CIVEO.
All 2023 QRC Indigenous Awards winners are below:
Joint Winners, Exceptional Indigenous Person in Queensland Resources
Danielle Kyle (South32) and Matthew Body (Glencore Qld Metals)
Winner, Indigenous Advocacy in Queensland Resources
Chandel Eyre (Petros Solutions Australia)
Winner, Indigenous Rising Star in Queensland Resources
Alex Dyball (Thiess) – Alex is a young Kalkadoon man based in Brisbane who joined Thiess as an undergraduate through CareerTrackers in 2019 and has shown remarkable dedication and leadership ever since. An Engineer, he manages and leads logistical support for sustainable technology projects globally that contribute to Thiess’ ESG strategy. Alex has demonstrated a commitment to promoting Indigenous empowerment, education and opportunity and has been a strong advocate for Indigenous representation in STEM fields.
Winner, Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) Student
Malachi Munns – is School Captain of Good Shepherd Catholic College in Mount Isa and has set his sights on becoming a Diesel Fitter. With support from his school teachers and TAFE, Malachi has achieved high academic results and is developing the skills needed to reach his ambition. He has undertaken various work experiences through QMEA and TAFE, enabling him to learn what it takes to be a Diesel Fitter in the resources sector.
Winner, Best Company Indigenous Initiative
Shell QGC – Waalitj Indigenous Scholarship Program. The program is guided by consultation with Traditional Owners and aims to bring about transformational change by supporting Indigenous women and men to secure tertiary and trade qualifications. Each scholarship recipient is guided by an Individual Career Plan, established with their Waalitj mentor, ensuring they have all the support and tools required to reach their goals. 68 young Indigenous people are currently going through the scholarship program, gaining the skills to become job-ready.
Winner, Exceptional Indigenous Business in Queensland Resources
BudbySmith Group is a 100% owned Indigenous business by Graham Budby and Jade Smith. This dynamic duo have demonstrated an exceptional ability to bridge cultural differences and create a workplace that is both inclusive and respectful of Indigenous cultural traditions. Graham and Jade are Barada descendants and have extensive knowledge of the cultural heritage, employment and training requirements needed to deal with proponents of resources projects. The business provides Labour Hire and Dry or Wet Hire of plant equipment in the mining and civil industries.