The students from Nyangatjatjara College in Northern Territory call some of Australia’s most remote communities home.
The college is an independent secondary school with campuses in Yulara, Imanpa and Kaltukatjara (Docker River) in the south-western pocket of the NT. All three communities have populations under 400 people, and are at least 300 kilometres from the nearest city, Alice Springs.
The college’s mission is to ensure distance is not a deterrent to the students’ education.
At Downer, we’re proud of our approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander development and our engagement with Traditional Owner groups in the regions we operate. So, when Downer’s Airports and Specialised Pavements business engaged with Nyangatjatjara College while tendering for the Ayers Rock Airport Upgrade Project they wanted to ensure it was a meaningful, long-lasting relationship.
“We worked closely with the team at Nyangatjatjara College during the tender and quickly recognised that rebuilding the runway at Yulara had to be more than just about successfully delivering the project,” Downer’s Bid Manager Airports & Specialised Pavements, Callum Bollard, says.
“With a community and College so keen to engage with us, we couldn’t just be a contractor who turned up and disappeared at the end of the project.”
Key members of Downer’s Airports & Specialised Pavements management team worked in collaboration with the Principal, Business Manager and Board of Nyangatjatjara College to create a work exposure program that educates the students about businesses and careers outside their communities, as well as the type of businesses they could establish within their communities.
“The program creates an ongoing partnership between Downer and Nyangatjatjara College, allowing us to share a little bit of our lives with the students, to help them understand the career opportunities open to them and to create a pathway for them,” Callum says. “The program is delivering benefits to both the students and Downer staff alike and we’re truly proud of the relationships we have built.”
In June, a group of seven students from the College, aged between 12 and 16, travelled to Sydney for a school excursion. This gave us the opportunity to host a work exposure program at our asphalt manufacturing and detritus processing facility in Rosehill.
The group toured our asphalt plant and were given an overview of the operations and jobs in the project management office, aggregates yard, asphalt manufacturing, maintenance facility and laboratory. In our Rosehill Detritus Processing Facility, the students obtained a better understanding of how Downer turns waste into reusable material and engaged with operators, tradesmen, engineers and management.
“It was a great day for the fellas from Nyangatjatjara College. The program provided by Downer really gives our students a good opportunity to think and talk about what they might be able to do working in the road construction industry in the Northern Territory. I can’t thank the Downer airports team enough for the way they’ve engaged with the College to make this program a reality. The commitment they’ve demonstrated to our community is exemplary,” Nyangatjatjara College CEO and Principal, Chris Harvey, says.