A partnership between The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus, Wesfarmers Curragh and Thiess has culminated in a unique mining skills graduation ceremony in Central Queensland.

Ten Indigenous women from Rockhampton and the Blackwater region are the first graduates of the “Oothungs (sisters) in Mining” program which has been designed to launch their careers in the mining industry at the Wesfarmers Curragh mine near Blackwater.

The ten participants had no previous mining experience and were selected for the course based partly on their genuine desire to enter the industry.

The group has undergone extensive training in the classroom environment and completed a program in the advanced haul truck simulator. Their graduation means they are now ready to enter operational roles as trainee haul truck operators.

Thiess will employ six of the trainees and four will join the Wesfarmers Curragh team.

Congratulating the first graduates of the “Oothungs in Mining” program, Thiess General Manager Mining, Douglas Thompson praised the collaborative effort which delivered the scheme.

“The combined expertise of The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus, Wesfarmers Curragh and Thiess has produced a truly outstanding result for diversity in the mining industry,” Mr Thompson said.

Wesfarmers Curragh General Manager Craig McCabe added, “Curragh is extremely pleased to host the Oothungs in Mining program and to provide this opportunity for the participants to start their career in mining.

“I wish all participants well for their traineeship and acknowledge the efforts of our partners The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus and Thiess for making this program possible,” he said.

"Every day we see how people's lives, families and communities can be transformed by sustainable employment, and the real benefit that brings to business too,” said Kirrilee Trist, spokesperson for The Salvation Army Employment Plus.

Support from organisations like Thiess and Wesfarmers Curragh on programs like this is fantastic, and we are looking forward to see how these talented, motivated graduates progress from here."

The advancement of women in mining will continue to be high on the diversity agenda of all three program partners.