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Barwon Water has developed a strategy to help increase the number of Aboriginal employees at the utility, while also providing culturally appropriate support.

Since developing the Aboriginal Employment and Retention Strategy, it has won the Australian Water Association’s Organisational Excellence Award in May.

Barwon Water put the strategy together with the help of the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar traditional owners.

At the heart of the strategy is understanding and embedding First Nations cultural values and the holistic wellbeing of First Nations Peoples.

Barwon Water said it provides the foundations for creating and delivering culturally appropriate, respectful and meaningful outcomes for First Nations employees.

The strategy is a key commitment under Barwon Water’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, and is structured around five key areas including:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Induction
  3. Inclusive Workplace Practices
  4. Retention
  5. Development

Two successful initiatives coming from this strategy include a 12-month traineeship program, developed in partnership with Wan-Yaari Aboriginal Consultancy Services and Gforce Employment Solutions, as well as an in-depth Connection to Country program for all employees, which includes cultural heritage education and visits to culturally-significant sites in the region.

Barwon Water held an event on 4 July 2022 to celebrate the strategy and the award.

Barwon Water Deputy Chair, Elaine Carbines, Member for Geelong and newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary for First Peoples, Christine Couzens, Ricky Kildea from Wan Yaari Aboriginal Consultancy Services, and Barwon Asset Solutions’ Hayley Jones spoke at the event.

The event also recognised the opportunities that the Porronggitj Karrong project and the wider plan for the Barwon River – Kitjarra-dja-bul Bullarto langi-ut – presented for Wadawurrung Traditional Owners self-determination.

Learn more about the Aboriginal Employment and Retention Strategy here.

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