A good education leads to job commitment and independence
Brian Hayes, a Thalanyji man from the red dust Pilbara region in Western Australia is committed to Indigenous employment.
Brian was born in 1957 in Onslow. He works in Karratha and Onslow, working with Woodside as their Senior Indigenous Affairs Advisor. He has been with Woodside for 5 years. Over the past 5 years, in Karratha, where Brian is based the number of Indigenous employees at Woodside has increased exponentially from 4 to 34.
Brian is passionate about Australian businesses committing to Indigenous employment. Whilst at Woodside, Brian is doing his bit to ensure Aboriginal employment is a priority. “I will commit to employing Indigenous people, and in return I expect that commitment to be returned.” Brian explains how he will help write resumes for Indigenous employees, saying “Go out and sell yourself, you don’t get a chance unless you sell yourself. A resume is just the selling side of things.”
Brian works 9-days on with Woodside and still upholds his cultural commitments and link to family and land. Brian is one of the traditional owners of the Onslow area. “We have five of the elders still alive, and we are next in line so to speak.” On 18th September 2008, they were granted the Native Title Consent for Thalanyji.
Brian advises Woodside on the training and employment of Indigenous Australians. “If there is commitment from both parties on training and this is returned, they will stay there for a lifetime.” Employing local Aboriginal people will ensure better retention rates for organisations in remote and regional Western Australia, as the local people from that area are committed to stay.
Brian is not shy of the barriers people face to employment. Currently he is working with Aboriginal people in Roebourne, WA who are third generation unemployed. “It is our place to change this and step up.” Over the past 4-5 years, he has noticed a focus on employing Indigenous people, but notes that there are “no serious commitments to it.” Brian acknowledges that it’s the responsibility of this generation to commit to this; “we can’t sit back and lay blame.”
Brian is here today because of his family and his parents. “My parents made a choice to send us away for an education… A good education is key, staying away from drugs and alcohol and always dangling the carrot, a guaranteed job, and what that means is key to successful future career pathways.” Sustainable employment is dependent upon ongoing commitment as well as continually inspiring youth with an outcome they understand and can work towards. “You have to give substance around the job.”
Brian was the first Aboriginal Councilor for the Pilbara region. From 1993 – 2003, he was a councilor for the Ashburton Shire. Seven of those years, he was president of the Shire. Under his presidency he built new basketball courts for the town of Onslow, and introduced the Easter Basketball Competition to engage locals from the surrounding towns and communities. He was awarded the Queen’s Centenary Award in 2001 for working in local government with remote communities.
So what’s next for Brian? He wants to earn a quid himself, employ Indigenous people, with a commitment of 80% Indigenous employees in his own security business.