As the number of women in the mining and resource industries increases, their presence and importance is being recognised and rewarded.
Over 600 people from across the Queensland today turned out to the Queensland Resource Council’s (QRC) annual Resources Awards for Women, part of the Resources Action Plan, to improve gender diversity in the state’s resource sector.
Individuals and companies were recognised for their outstanding contributions in supporting the role of women in mining, presented by Minister for Employment and Skills, Stirling Hinchcliffe at the International Women’s Day breakfast in Brisbane.
Contracting firm Theiss was recognised for a program which supports indigenous women in the resource sector.
Its indigenous women in hard hats readiness program, designed to provide disadvantaged indigenous women with an opportunity to change their circumstances through full time employment in the mining industry was awarded the Best Company Initiative Award.
Together with the Department of Employment, Economic and Development and Innovation’s indigenous initiatives team and the Office for Women, a program has been developed to meet the skills and training expectations of employers in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the program has resulted in indigenous women working in a variety of roles in the industry.
He said the awards are important in recognizing the contributions being made to the changing industry.
“The breakfast and the awards have become pillars of QRC’s Women in Resources Action Plan, aimed at improving the attraction and retention of women in the resources sector in Queensland and making women aware of resources career opportunities is an important part of that ,” he said
“Over the next 5 to 10 years we have to find tens of thousands of people to support the expansion of our industry in Queensland, so it is vital that we encourage women, who are still significantly under-represented in our ranks to enter and remain in our sector.
“Though female participation has risen from about 8 percent to 15 percent since 2005-06 in Queensland, participation in areas where women are traditionally under represented, such as operators, trades, engineers, geologists and senior management, is still just under 11 percent.
“While this means we have almost reached the 2020 target we set in 2006 to double to 12 percent the proportion of women in ‘non-traditional’ roles, we will not rest on our laurels.
‘We will have to continue to be innovative in our attraction and retention strategies to reach our new target of 20 percent women by 2020 and find the skilled people we need.”
Achieving those targets for more women in the resource industry will be made possible through fostering talent and supporting young women’s interest in mining.
Sarah Coughlan from Nanango State High School was awarded with the Womens junior category at the Resource Awards for Women.
She has shown a keen interest in the mining sector and has previously been awarded the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Right Direction Award and wants to study geophysics at university, lading to a physics-related career in the resource sector.
She is hoping to gain work experience at the Meandu Mine later this year.
Her chances look good, as she is already a University of Queensland Science Ambassador and recipient of the Best of the West award from the Go West organization at the University of Southern Queensland.
The runner up in the junior category, Jamie McIntyre of Toowoomba State High School, also has a bright future ahead in the resource industry.
Jamie is looking towards a career as an environmental engineer and is planning on attending her second engineering camp soon.
‘I think a career in the resources sector would be very rewarding. I would like a career where I can assist in the protection of the environment and this is quite possible working in the resources sector,’ Jamie said.
QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said Jamie will be an excellent ambassador for the resources sector.
Last month, Fortescue Metals’ Sandra Liu was named as a celebrity ambassador for ovarian cancer.
Image: Queensland Resource Council