Emerging Models for Diversity Engagement in the Australian Minerals Industry

Janina M Gawler,
Bruce Harvey
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Historically, most Australian mining companies have made little effort to diversify their workforces. Likewise, there has been little engagement with residents from the diverse range of Indigenous communities close to where mines are located. Instead, employees have commonly been recruited from urban or provincial centres and relocated to mine sites for the duration of their employment, whether on short term "Fly-in Fly-out" assignment, or as 'expatriates' relocated to a purpose-built company town. However, over the last decade there has been a concerted drive within the minerals sector to change how mines interact with Indigenous communities. Most of the larger companies have made public commitments to engage with Indigenous peoples on matters of mutual concern, a variety of engagement processes have been established at the local level, and a growing number of operations are adopting formal community relations plans and management systems. Enlightened companies have extended beyond the subsidy and grant-making paradigm in supporting local Indigenous communities, to strategies based on sustainable economic participation, inclusive of direct employment and local enterprise facilitation. The paper will identify the main drivers of change, provide an overview of the new forms of community engagement that are emerging and discuss the challenges that lie ahead. The primary focus of the paper will be on Rio Tinto Ltd, which has over 20 sites around Australia located in a diverse variety of community settings. Rio Tinto's experience is of particular interest, as the company has recently developed comprehensive diversity management and community engagement frameworks for its Australian and overseas operations

Keywords: Mining Companies, Diversifying Workforces
Stream: First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, Organisations
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Emerging Models of Diversity in Australian Mining

Janina M Gawler

Consultant Employment Specialist, Aboriginal and Community Relations, Rio Tinto Limited

Janina has a long standing background working with Indigenous people across Australia with a focus on changing organisational culture to ensure Indigenous people have sustainable employment outcomes. She has worked with large corporations, schools, regional communities and the technical and further education system across Australia.- Janina has been consultant to Rio Tinto over the past 7 years and designed and monitored the implementation of their Indigenous Employment strategy during the time that the Rio Tinto Group in Australia increased the levels of employment from 0.5 % to 6.6 %. Janina has a BA. Dip Ed and is currently undertaking her Masters by Research on Indigenous Employment in the mining industry in Australia. Janina has been Chair of the CEOs of State Departments of Employment and Training in Australia, and a member of the Worldskills Board and the Board of Higher Education and Training.

Bruce Harvey

Chief Advisor, Aboriginal and Community Relations, Rio Tinto Limited

Bruce Harvey has worked for Rio Tinto for 24 years, as an exploration geologist, and in his current role for the last five years. From 1992 to 1997 he was General Manager and Chief Geologist for Rio Tinto Exploration in Northern Australia, based in Darwin. He has worked extensively with Aboriginal people and has developed an understanding of the many issues relating to their history and their land. He helped develop many relationships and agreements between Rio Tinto, Aboriginal communities and their representative organisations. Bruce has an honours degree in Geology and a Masters of Business Administration. He moved to Melbourne with his family in 1999 to take up his current role. He travels extensively throughout Australia and elsewhere to Rio Tinto sites and associated communities. Bruce is a former Deputy President of the Northern Territory Minerals Council; a past Chair of the Northern Territory Mining Industry Advisory Board, and committee member of the NT Branch of the Austrian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. He is currently Deputy Chairman of the Rio Tinto Aboriginal Foundation and is a member of the Australian National Indigenous Tourism Leadership Group.

Ref: D05P0187