THE National Aboriginal Press Club held its fifth event at Optus stadium last Thursday, May 5, bringing together leaders from industry and government with native title holders to discuss the future of WA’s mining and energy sector.
BHP’s head of Indigenous engagement Allan James told the crowd of about 150 people the relationship was “very much a work in progress”.
A Wongi/Yamatji man born and raised in the northern Goldfields, Mr James shared his lived experience of dispossession after mining forced his family off their land 20 years ago.
Mr James said he’d seen and felt the devastation and loss of culture when mining companies “get it wrong,” but said there can be positive outcomes for communities if mining companies do better.
“[There is] enormous opportunity for prosperity in generations to come, but [it] needs to be done right,” he said.
He wants to see more Aboriginal people in leadership roles within the mining sector, and a transparent process of decision making.
Mr James said mining companies need to be focusing on retention and creating pathways for Aboriginal people, as well as creating work environments that are “culturally respectful.”
“We can’t succeed if we have to stop being Aboriginal on the job,” he said.
by KELLY WARDEN