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.