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An Indigenous elder from the Ghungalu people in the Blackwater region took 26 Indigenous students from Blackwater State High School on a Yarbun Rhunga or ‘Learning Day’ tour yesterday to explore their local culture.
This unique excursion was organised by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
The day was sponsored by Coronado Curragh’s metallurgical coal mine at Blackwater, which is one of the world’s largest producers of high-quality coking coal.
QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Katrina-Lee Jones said the QMEA runs regular in-school workshops and camps to encourage young people to consider a career in resources, with a focus on female and Indigenous students to improve workplace diversity.
She said yesterday’s cultural excursion was a first for the QMEA, with Ghumgalu elder Steve Kemp introducing students to the language, storytelling, medicine, artifacts, tools and equipment used by local Indigenous people.
The tour was followed by a site excursion to Coronado Curragh’s coal mine, where Steve talked to students about his experience working in the mining sector and company representatives spoke to students about ‘homegrown’ job opportunities in the region.
Ms Jones said the resources sector is proud to be the largest private employer of Indigenous people in Queensland, and of the commitment by companies like Coronado Curragh to improve diversity in their workplace.
“The QMEA hopes to be able to offer more excursions like this, which has given Indigenous students the chance to learn more about their cultural history as well as the excellent resources career paths available locally,” she said.
“By talking with Coronado Curragh’s onsite mentors, students learnt about the many roles involved in producing metallurgical coal, which is essential to making the steel used in so many products we rely on in our everyday lives,” said Coronado Global Resources Vice President People and Culture, Emma Pollard.
“We hope students found the day very rewarding, and that they may be inspired to one day consider a career in the resources sector,” she said.
“The real-world application of classroom learning and how it applies to Indigenous perspectives was on display yesterday, and it’s an exciting way for our students to learn more about the resources industry while exploring their local cultural history,” Blackwater State High School’s Principal Rebecca Godfrey said.
“The QMEA program will assist our students to further understand the careers available in the resources sector as they plan ahead for subjects being undertaken next year and beyond.”
As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA broadens student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources.
The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers. The QMEA currently engages with 80 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.
Media contact: Ellie Blumel – firstname.lastname@example.org or 0448 122 948