29 May 2020

In This Together…constructing long term legacies in the Top End

BMD’s association with privately run Indigenous labour hire business, IE Project has developed into more than just a client/subcontractor relationship. Below, Mark Elliott, Area Manager, BMD and Wendy Moulds, Director, IE Project share their insights into how the companies are working to construct long term legacies in the Top End.

When did BMD and IE Project first connect?

Wendy: IE Project first reached out to BMD in 2016 as we were interested in understanding if they had any labour hire requirements on the Tiger Brennan Drive Duplication project.

Mark: Yes, Tiger Brennan Drive was the first project that BMD and IE Project worked together on. Many of BMD’s Northern Territory employees also undertook cross cultural awareness training with Jason Elsegood in 2015. Jason is a Director of IE Project and has since gone on to deliver cross cultural training to hundreds of BMD employees around the country.

How has the relationship between BMD and IE Project evolved over the past five years?

Wendy: IE Project has provided tender support and labour hire on numerous BMD projects, both in Darwin and in regional and remote areas of the Top End. Some of the projects we have recently been involved in include the Maningrida housing estate, the Laramba Watermain Replacement, works at the Tindal RAAF Base, and land development projects including Zuccoli, Northcrest, Muirhead and Berrimah Business Park.

Mark: IE Project has become BMD’s go-to company for our projects’ labour hire needs. Our relationship has also evolved further in recent times, with Wendy assisting our tendering teams. We now collaborate with IE Project right through the lifecycle of a project – from tendering for a job, working with them to develop a project’s Indigenous Engagement Plan which is required to be submitted 14 days after contract award, and then partnering with Wendy and her team to fulfil our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander project commitments.

How would you describe your working relationship?

Wendy: We have a fantastic relationship with BMD. The real stand out for us is their genuine commitment to Indigenous employment – it’s not just about ticking a box, there is real engagement when dealing with the BMD site team, including their site managers and supervisors.

Mark: Working with IE Project is a no brainer for BMD. Their dedication to increasing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aligns with BMD’s commitment to reconciliation, and assists us to achieve the deliverables outlined in our Reconciliation Action Plans. Further to that though is how great Wendy is to work with – she is always honest, open and transparent with both BMD and her labour workforce. It is more than just a job to Wendy, she genuinely cares about the guys on IE Project’s books and will go out of her way to check in with them and see how they’re doing, even if they decide that a career in civil construction isn’t for them.

Can you outline a positive outcome that has been achieved through BMD and IE Project’s relationship?

Wendy: The real positive outcome has been the career pathways provided to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. IE Project have been able to place and develop staff who have worked on a BMD site onto other projects following the project’s completion. On BMD’s projects, the guys get a broader civil experience through training in the use of a range of machinery. In most works with BMD, we are providing labourers, pipelayers and roller operators, which is a great foundation for them to then continue on in their careers.

Mark: Over the years that we have been working with IE Project, BMD has been able to recruit permanent workforce through the labour hire company. This has assisted BMD to build our own Indigenous workforce, delivering lasting legacies by providing upskilling opportunities including encouraging and supporting them to undertake specific training in civil construction through obtaining certificates. That is one of the great things about IE Project, they don’t see losing one of their guys as a negative, but rather support clients to take on workers permanently if it’s in their best interest.

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme is In This Together. How do you think the relationship between BMD and IE Project demonstrates this theme?

Wendy: I think BMD and IE Project demonstrate In This Together through our great working relationship. We are constantly in communication with the company and acknowledge that they have helped our business to grow over the past five years, while also remaining committed to providing our candidates with real experience on a range of civil construction and land development projects.

Mark: Our relationship with IE Project can be summed up in one word – collaboration. Wendy has become an extension of BMD’s Northern Territory team and our go-to for advice and assistance to ensure that our Indigenous engagement initiatives have the best chance of making real, tangible change.

Can you provide one piece of advice on how we can improve relationships between Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Wendy: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the first Australians and they should be acknowledged and recognised for this. I would ask businesses to continue to offer opportunity and training to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Also, ensure people understand that they need to meet employment expectations – it’s all about hand up, not out.

Mark: Education is key. Undertaking cross cultural awareness training is one of the best things that all Australians can do, regardless of their background or race. For me personally, the training really opened my eyes to the differences in cultures and helps me to remember that it’s not always easy to immediately understand what other people may be going through. Understanding that a ‘one shoe fits all’ policy doesn’t work is also essential to remember when trying to implement change.

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