ABORIGINAL communities along the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade have been informed and invited to participate in construction and other work on the project by the New South Wales and Federal Governments.
“The overall Pacific Highway upgrade between Port Macquarie and Ballina has roughly 10 percent Indigenous employment and we are looking to increase this participation for the Woolgoolga to Ballina section,” Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said.
“This is regional Australia's largest road infrastructure project and a key part of the Australian Government’s record $50 billion infrastructure investment package. We are determined to ensure the benefits — including thousands of jobs — are shared right across the community.”
NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey said it was important the local Aboriginal workforce had every opportunity to be involved in an infrastructure project of this size. Information sessions were conducted in April and early May.
“Drivers only have to look outside their car window to see the extensive work to upgrade the highway, but they might not see the efforts being made to ensure the local Aboriginal workforce was engaged,” Mrs Pavey said.
NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said she was proud the government was building a workforce that reflected the diversity of the communities the Pacific Highway passed through.
“The Pacific Highway runs through the heart of regional New South Wales and while the government is building big infrastructure projects, it is also investing in the futures of both the local and Aboriginal communities along the highway’s length,” Mrs Mitchell said.
“A number of initiatives are already in place including implementing contracts with higher mandatory Indigenous participation, direct engagement of Indigenous companies to provide fit-out of contractor offices and using local Indigenous artists to design art for one of the project vehicles.”
Work on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is expected to start mid-year. The national government aspiration for Indigenous business and employment participation in major infrastructure projects is 10 percent.