Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

The MUA has a long history of strong activism in support of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 



To contact the Committee:

Thomas Mayor

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coordinator

0437 650 221




Union Gets Behind Push for Constitutional Reform

The push for Constitutional reform to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice to Federal Parliament has been given the support of the Maritime Union of Australia.


MUA supports constitutional change to recognise Australia's first people

 All members are encouraged to show their support and can do so here.


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This is the resolution that was moved by Mich-Elle Myers, MUA National Officer, at the ACTU Executive in March:

The ACTU Executive reaffirms its support for the Recognise Campaign.


The ACTU Executive believes that recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as the First Australians, and the removal of racial discrimination from the Consitution of Australia will be a further essential step towards building a nation based on mutual respect and understanding, and a nation that values its rich history.


In particular, the ACTU Executive reiterates its support for:


- The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the body of the Consitution of Australia, rather than the preamble;

- Changes to the Constitution of Australia that remove discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or country of origin.


The ACTU Executive realises the urgency of educating & informing unions and union members about the Recognise campaign during 2014 and 2015 to ensure that a national conversation and movement can be built around a Referendum.


Unions have a proud history of showing leadership on reconciliation, the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, promoting an inclusive Australia and eliminating all forms of racial discrimination.


This is a campaign that needs a united effort from everyone in our society and with a reach of 2 million union members the ACTU Executive acknowledges the considerable role Australian Unions have to play in the Recognise campaign.


And the winner is... the MUA

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This year the union was recognised in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander category, while National Lead Organiser, Bernie Farrelly, was named Organiser of the Year.


Industry stalwart, Farrelly has worked in his organiser role for almost a decade.


Last night, his accomplishments in nurturing other organisers around Australia and for his strategy in uniting two unions on FPSOs, was rewarded.


“I’m overwhelmed," Farrelly said.


“It’s a tremendous honour to be recognised by my peers.


“I think it’s also a reflection of the quality of the people of I have to work with.


“Working in a union and having the opportunity to represent and work with grass root workers is a privilege and an honour in itself.”


The MUA also bagged the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander award for the second year in a row and Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray was there to receive the award on behalf of the union. 

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“It just goes to show we're doing something right for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters," Bray said


It was a busy year for the MUA in 2013 with Torres Strait Islander man and former wharfie, Thomas Mayor being installed as the union's first ATSI official. 


"I am particularly proud of the Wandilla initiative, which we launched last year," Bray said. 


Together with Tribal Warrior Association and shipping company Svitzer, the MUA formulated a program whereby Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants would receive real, on-the-job trainining aboard a working tug boat. 


"I saw it as a way to really engage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women in the maritime industry," he said. 


To read more about the Wandilla initiative click here


"The ACTU award shows us we are on the right track."


Last year, Paddy Neliman, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander committee chairperson won the ACTU individual award.


This year the MUA endorsed the Transport Workers Union nominee and winner, Luke Logan, in the Occupational Health & Safety category.


Logan works closely with the MUA on the multi-union Port Waratah Coal Services site in Newcastle.


He was recognised for his determination in protecting members on site when safety issues arise.


For a full list of winners click here


Wandilla Launch Signals Beginning Of Innovative Training Initiative

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The event went without a hitch outside of the Australian Maritime Museum, kicked off by a traditional smoking ceremony, whereby special leaves were burned in order to ward off the bad, using the smoke to cleanse.


Then the formalities started with a Welcome to Country and a traditional Aboriginal song.


Each of the speakers – MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray, Tribal Warrior Association chief executive Shane Phillips and Svitzer human resources manager Mark Cox – all spoke about their involvement in the project which aims to provide young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with training and qualifications, with real job opportunities.


Bray recalled how he began discussions with Phillips over coffee three years ago, when they were still hatching ideas on how to develop a training program and the Eureka moment he had when he realised a tugboat was what was needed.


“Many people in regional communities sitting adjacent to these massive resource projects who have been promised the world but they never lead to any real jobs,” Bray said.


“We need to be able to link the training to direct jobs.”


He said he was confident this program would be able to produce some real outcomes for the participants because it was a collaboration of different cultures – a community organisation, a shipping company, a registered training organisation, in METL, and a union which has historically and traditionally fought for social justice issues – all speaking from the same page to close the gap between Australia’s Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.


“It’s a historic occasion, it’s a very proud occasion and a lot of hard work has been done and there is still a lot of hard work to do and I am looking forward to working with all of the parties that been involved so far to make sure it’s a success in the future,” Bray said.


View photos here








Wayne Kurnorth

0400 707 406



Roger Pickett

0449 892 283


Wesley Walley

0405 119 221



Jimmy Kuzic

0420 889 268



Tony Cooke

0413 552 410


David Cooke



Margaret Creighton

0429 433 420



Steven Taylor

0409 985 834



Thomas Mayor

Official responsible


Patrick Neliman


0417 996 636