Aboriginal prisoners will soon have the opportunity to take on mining employment after their release, thanks to a new agreement between Fortescue Metals Group and WA Department of Corrective Services.
FMG chairman Andrew Forrest has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Commissioner James McMahon which will enable low-risk prisoners from the Roebourne Prison to undertake training courses while in prison and be guaranteed a job on release.
Over the next year eight prisoners will take part in the Vocational, Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) Fresh Start program, which is the first of its kind under VTEC according to Corrective Services minister Joe Francis.
“Prisoners who successfully complete the six-month program will earn mining industry related qualifications and are guaranteed a job with Fortescue,” Francis said.
“Through programs like this, prisoners are given an opportunity to break their cycle of offending and become law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Jobs available to participants in the program will include trades assistant (construction), forklift operator, and mine site operator.
Participants will undertake the course at Roebourne TAFE under a day release scheme, and upon release the students will enter a two-week, site-based training program, and receive a job either with FMG or one of its contractors.
FMG chief executive Nev Power said the program was an example of the company’s commitment to ending social disparity for aboriginal people.
“At Fortescue we are proud to create opportunities for aboriginal people by offering a hand up and not a hand out,” he said.
“The VTEC Fresh Start program will empower more aboriginal people to take control of their lives because being employed brings independence, stability and self-belief.”
FMG employs 1100 aboriginal people in its operations, representing 12 per cent of its workforce.