Marisa Barker

Marisa Barker grew up in Broome, Western Australia. She spent her youth hating school and failed to see the impact that finishing school would have on her life.


Marisa is driving her future

Marisa Barker grew up in Broome, Western Australia.  She spent her youth hating school and failed to see the impact that finishing school would have on her life.

Although her parents strongly encouraged her to continue school, she left in year 11. 

Marisa says she has no regrets and openly explains that she didn’t see the point in school.  Now her adult education program, a pre-employment program at the Fortescue Metal Groups Vocational Training and Employment Centre, has given her the hands-on training that led her to a job in the mining industry.  

Growing up surrounded by unemployment, addiction and poverty, Marisa watched many members of her community live from pay to pay and struggle.  Then Marisa made the decision to apply for a position at Fortescue Metals Group (FMG). 

The pre-employment program was established by FMG to assist Indigenous people like Marisa transition from long-term unemployment to employment.  The core focus of the VTEC is to provide participants with the education and support to build a sustainable career that offers economic and community stability.  Since 2006 the FMG VTEC site has supported over 1,000 Indigenous people into employment.

Marissa admits that the transition to training was difficult.  Stepping out of her comfort zone and embarking on her new journey took a lot of courage, but she did it.  “I wanted to do the training because I was unemployed for two years and I thought I want something better than this”, Ms Barker said.

After completing the employer directed training she learnt the skills that she needed for the job.  She now works in the operations department of FMG, driving the huge trucks in and out of mine sites. 

Since landing her job she has seen some changes in herself; increased confidence, increased happiness and she has a real sense of purpose, “I feel good about what I do and what I’ve achieved to get there” said Marisa.

In Marisa’s eyes there are lots of rewards to working at the mines. Overall the most rewarding thing is  earning her own money, “I work bloody hard for it,” she said. 

In December 2011 GenerationOne released an employment research paper Walk in My Shoes.  Part of this crucial research highlighted the experiences of Indigenous job seekers at different stages of the employment process.  The research showed that many Indigenous people want to work however face many significant barriers – this VTEC is one way that companies like FMG have sought to address these issues and enable Indigenous people to move into meaningful employment.

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