DBS NT Indigenous Pre-employment graduates

Forty-two Indigenous jobseekers have recently completed a pre-employment program launched for Ventia's Defence Base Services contract.

Equipping these jobseekers with hospitality and catering skills, the program has seen almost 80% of the graduates accept positions supporting the US Marine Rotational Force - Darwin. 

Up to 2,200 U.S. Marines began arriving for the six-month military rotation in March. It is the Marines' eleventh Darwin deployment to train alongside Australian troops since the rotation began in 2012.

The pre-employment program, which offers a practical component, saw participants gain work experience in Defence production kitchens, familiarising themselves with the unique hospitality environment that they would work in.

Kezia Smith, a Gooreng Gooreng woman and Senior People and Capability Business Partner with Ventia, says that the Indigenous graduates who have signed job offer contracts - some of whom were long-term unemployed - are proud to have the opportunity to earn a reliable income and see development pathways.

"During the course, the jobseekers had to turn up every day, be on time, take instructions and complete tasks within specific timeframes'" says Kezia. "These actions demonstrated commitment, reliability and dedication to achieving employment.

"At the completion of each program intake, participants had already begun to support and encourage each other, eager to take on additional shifts," she says. 

We've observed a growing sense of pride and achievement in so many of the new team members, it's been such an important journey for everyone involved.

Kezia credits the support mechanisms encouraged and facilitated by our leadership team as being pivotal to the successful outcomes of the program. She believes that without the leaders' commitment, it would not have been possible for established Indigenous employees to provide transport and welfare support to the new team members.

Leila Sariago, a 2020 pre-employment program participant and current Hospitality and Catering Utility, has been sustaining this year's program in the seconded position of Welfare and Support Officer.

Leila states, "It was important for each program participant to know that they wouldn't be the only Indigenous person working in hospitality and catering at Ventia.'

It was wonderful to see that throughout each program intake, personalities emerged, confidence grew, and everyone really started communicating.

A mentoring network 

To support Indigenous employees across the NT workplace, a mentoring network was created in 2021 by some of Ventia's Indigenous business leaders. Known as 'The Deadly Network', the group's leaders support other Indigenous employees, helping create an atmosphere of cultural safety where everyone can thrive. The Deadly Network is just one of a variety of initiatives supported by the framework of our 'Elevate' Reconciliation Action Plan.

Additionally, to further ensure broad-based support for Indigenous employees on this contract, Ventia's front-line hospitality leaders and team members complete cultural diversity awareness training.

Byron Davis, Deputy Project Manager with Ventia's specialist Indigenous employment initiative, TRECCA (Training, Recruitment, Employment, Care and Career Advancement), points out that some non-Indigenous people may not take into consideration, or understand, certain things that may stand in the way of Indigenous people achieving a job. 

"Things that might be taken for granted by others are sometimes outside the experience of TRECCA jobseekers, such as having control or ownership of legal photo identification, a birth certificate, or employment records," Byron says.

"We're helping address this issue by working with nationally-recognised Indigenous businesses such as HoldAccess, which offers personal document software solutions like the 'Dijiwallet'." 

Byron Davis training teams

Pictured: Byron Davis, Deputy Project Manager TRECCA 

Increasing Indigenous representation 

Promisingly, Indigenous employee levels in Ventia's Northern Territory Defence business have increased from 2% in 2017 to 12% today, with representation across all organisational business functions including Operations, SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality), People and Capability, and Projects.

In developing the Indigenous pre-employment program, TRECCA and our operating teams collaborated with key stakeholders.

"The NT Government funded the skills training component of the program," says Stephen Mitchell, Project Manager with Ventia's TRECCA team. 

"Other key stakeholders included the Australian Government's Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and the Department of Defence; the Northern Territory Government's Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade; Jobactive providers; and ECB Training Services, an Indigenous-owned training organisation."  

We are committed to making the Ventia NT Indigenous Pre-employment Program a great success and expanding the capabilities of our program's graduates, supporting both the Australian Defence Force and NT economic development in the process.

Indigenous female employee at Ventia

Pictured: One of our successful graduates who has accepted a role in hopsitality supporting the US Marine Rotational Force - Darwin. 


National Reconcilation Week 

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. 

Through our programs, our training offerings and the initiatives we encourage across our business - our people reflect upon ways we can improve Indigenous engagement, foster employment and support Indigenous communities.

Learn more here: https://www.ventia.com/page/national-reconciliation-week-be-brave-make-change