National Reconciliation Week gives us the opportunity to learn more about our First Nations people and our shared history.

But for Ventia's TRECCA team, education about Indigenous culture is an ongoing activity and is a fundamental step in working towards improving retention of our Indigenous employees and reconciliation.

Ventia is proud of its growing number of Indigenous employees who work in a variety of roles across all of our sectors, including transport, resources, critical infrastructure, health, housing, defence, education and justice. The TRECCA team supports contracts across Ventia to engage with Indigenous communities to improve their participation and retention.

Ventia also has responsibility for the care of Indigenous people who are incarcerated, being transported to and from correctional facilities or facing court.

TRECCA Deputy Project Manager Byron Davis joined the team five years ago when Ventia was awarded the Indigenous Employment Parity Initiative contract by the Commonwealth Government.

Byron recently visited the Court Security and Custodial Services team in Western Australia at Contract Director Willie Galloway's request to provide them with cultural diversity training to help them have more respectful and positive interactions with Indigenous staff and offenders in their care. The Delron management team in the state also attended the training.

As a proud Kalkadoon and Wannyi man from North West Queensland, Byron is well placed to talk about the institutional and cultural racism he has experienced throughout his life and provides practical advice and ways to break the cycle through education and training. He has had an extensive career in education and training and has previously worked as a criminologist with organisations such as the NSW and NT police and the Australian Federal Police, to prevent unconscious biases in interviews and to provide tools to redress discriminatory behaviours and interactions with Indigenous people. Byron said:

We need to create a culturally safe environment for our Indigenous employees and clients and part of that is to inform people how Indigenous people see the world.

"Our value systems are different - we walk, speak and act differently and our communication, body language, gestures, and how we perceive, hear and receive information can be different.

"The value of money and work is different to Aboriginal people, and there has been a perception that Indigenous Australians don't want to work and are unreliable, but this is not true.

"The value of family and supporting extended kin is more important to Indigenous Australians.

"Many of the prisoners in custody that are in our care under the contract Willie's team operates are Indigenous and there is often an unconscious bias towards Aboriginal people in prison.

Cultural diversity training gives staff the tools to work with Indigenous Australians, learn their values and demystifies things by providing context.

The cultural diversity training is a half-day workshop that discusses our shared history and collective journey and how to understand diversity. Byron asks questions to discuss as a group, such as words that offend, sets activities and challenges participants on views about diversity in Australia's history. He also ties the training to our Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Byron said the training is important because we are an Elevate RAP company and many staff don't know what that is, and the training is useful to understand the journey and the pillars of reconciliation in Australia.

As an Elevate Reconciliation Action company, we are interested in a shared history and moving forward and being braver for reconciliation in our business.

Contributing to reconcilation 

"We play an important part in the reconciliation movement and champion and pioneer actions and behaviours that make a difference.

"It can be as simple as an Acknowledgement of Country or asking what country you're on.

"We know our clients want this as well and they want to know we are who we say we are.

"The training is about being informed about how to do it."

Byron said the training is relevant to all staff, not just those who work with Indigenous people.

"The tide has turned on Indigenous issues, so we're all expected to do our part for reconciliation.

"We all live in Australia and we have a rich and diverse Indigenous history, so it's important we talk this narrative.

"People can be offended by words and people will still get it wrong, but that's why we need ongoing training.'

Pictured above: Byron Davis with the CS&CS Kalgoorlie team.


Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June. This year's theme is: More than a word, reconciliation takes action.

Read more about Indigenous employment program.

Read more about our approach to Indigenous participation.