Thiess has been named a finalist for the 2019 Australian Mining Prospect Awards for its commitment to building skills and opportunities for inmates in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.
Thiess has been recognised in the category of Community Interaction celebrating industry programs that benefit the broader community.
The national awards recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements of individuals and businesses within the mining and resource sector.
Winners will be announced at the Prospect Awards Night held in Brisbane on Thursday, 10 October.
About the program
In the heart of New South Wales’ Hunter Valley mining region, our Mount Pleasant and Mount Arthur Coal mine teams are working with Corrective Services Industries (CSI) to equip inmates at the nearby St Heliers correctional centre with the skills to best prepare them for life beyond their sentence.
Despite not having supplied to Thiess or a mine site previously, Thiess has partnered with CSI to deliver quality, new and refurbished buildings to meet both the Mount Pleasant and Mount Arthur Mine sites’ requirements.
The partnership is the first of its kind, engaging over 45 inmates from St Helier’s Gundi program, which is set-up to support inmates to build trade skills and by virtue employment prospects when released.
“We knew little about the involvement of the inmates in the construction of the buildings initially and there were some hurdles during the contract negotiation,” Operations Manager NSW, Heather Parry said.
“There was a commercially compelling reason to proceed with CSI and with a little perseverance from both parties we were able to reach a positive outcome,” Heather said.
“Over time we’ve become aware of just how valuable the Gundi program is for the participants and their futures – it has the potential to change lives.”
Our client at Mount Pleasant Mine, MACH Energy Australia was entirely supportive of our initiative. Subsequently at Mt Arthur South Mine, the second site to engage with the initiative, our Client BHP has also been fully supportive.
During the installation phase of the project, Thiess also engaged with two local Indigenous companies Blackrock Industries and Bodycote Constructions who both utilise workers from the Gundi program, taking advantage of their newly acquired skills.
Blackrock’s founder and Managing Director Steve Fordham shared his insights into the life challenges ex-prisoners can encounter and just how important finding meaningful work is to them successfully rebuilding their lives.
“The stigma associated with past mistakes and incarceration, even for low-grade sentences and crimes, often excludes ex-prisoners from getting on with their lives,” Steve explained.
“For many of these guys, gaining meaningful employment post-release is the key to them gaining economic independence, a sense of place in the local community and breaking the cycle of reoffending.
“It’s great to have companies like Thiess willing to form partnerships with local businesses like ours. It’s good for us, good for the individuals and good for our community and region.”
For Thiess, partnering with local suppliers with the attributes of CSI, Bodycote Constructions and Blackrock Industries has also delivered many benefits:
- We have been provided with modern, fit for purpose facilities built to specification and a high-quality finish
- The structures are durable and can be re-located to another site at project completion, making them a viable economic solution
- We now have a state-wide contract with CSI to provide building services which can be utilised at other projects
- We have a commercial agreement with local Blackrock Industries to supply a range of goods and services to our projects; and
- We have achieved a commitment of our 2017 – 2020 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) - to create mutually beneficial partnerships that drive economic opportunities.
But most importantly, this initiative has shown what can be achieved in the mining industry by those who are open to the idea of giving someone a second chance. It is a highly transferable business solution, and the working arrangements between CSI and Thiess were scoped and implemented through our standard supplier on-boarding processes.