JOBSEEKERS from Thursday, Horn, Hammond and Badu Islands and local businesses have benefitted as one of Australia's leading Indigenous radio stations is given a new lease of life.
The extensive refurbishment of the 4MW radio station building was delivered through a successful Indigenous joint venture utilising My Pathway Community Development Program (CDP) jobseekers to complete the renovations in an Australian government initiative designed to upskill jobseekers while meeting community needs.
A team of eight Indigenous women studied a Certificate II in Construction Pathways as part of the CDP project, while working under the supervision of a local building contractor and were employed for the duration of the project.
They were tasked with renovating and restoring areas of the radio station building no longer in use due to the poor condition.
Funded by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), the project was developed in partnership with My Pathway, and Torres Strait lslander Media Association (TSIMA) who own the building.
TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said the TSRA is proud to be involved in this collaborative initiative.
“The TSIMA refurbishment project’s intent was, from an economic development perspective, to support diversity in the work place and skills development for Torres Strait Island communities,” Mr Stephen said.
“It was great to see local women gain valuable construction skills as part of the $670,000 project, funded by the TSRA’s Economic Development programme, with a local Indigenous contractor Powankaz Building & Civil Constructions Pty Ltd, who was awarded the building contract.”
“It is outcomes like these that aligns with the TSRA’s Economic Development programme outcome for the improved wealth of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the region.”
Designed to support skills and training needed to assist female lndigenous CDP jobseekers to transition to full-time work, take on higher-level jobs, or own and operate their own businesses, the women worked alongside My Pathway skills trainer Joe Lui and trades mentor Gil Mailman, one of Australia’s first female Indigenous electricians.
“For an almost exclusively male-dominated industry, local men were amazed how capable and empowered the women are, how clean and organised the construction site was,” said My Pathway mentor Gil Mailman, who owns her own successful ICT company with operations nationwide. “This ‘Women in Construction’ CDP program really allows women the freedom to choose viable careers in their own communities.”
Through the TSIMA Building refurbishment six female job seekers achieved a Certificate II in Construction Pathways, five of the women participants gained jobs onsite following their training and on completion of the project have found full-time or ongoing employment in the region’s building sector.
The project also stimulated the regional economy by using local Indigenous businesses to manage the construction works and the TSRA is proud to report “96 per cent Indigenous participation rate was achieved.”
The collaborative program has improved infrastructure on Thursday lsland, by reviving 4MW community radio with a new floor, walls, ceiling and roof finishes plus improved structural and wind load rating to strengthen resilience to the impact of cyclones and tropical storms.
4MW is a community news broadcaster covering up to 274 small islands of the Torres Strait, 4MW also reaches audiences in northern Cape York to the Western Province of Papua New Guinea.
Founded in 1985, 4MW gives the local community the opportunity to have a voice, share their culture and to entertain and inform and has hosted many local identities such as Uncle Seaman Dan, Christine Anu and Patrick Mau “Mau Power”.
The project was blessed on 25 May 2019 at the TSIMA/4MW building on Thursday Island.
Photo 'Amplifying change': Trainer Joseph Lui (2nd l) and mentor Gil Mailman (2nd r) with CDP construction trainees renovated 4MW community radio station on Thursday Island. Photo: My Pathway