For Training Specialist Brendan Pollard, taking on the role of Diversity & Inclusion Champion at the Lake Vermont Coal Project in February 2018 was more than a professional development opportunity.
It was a chance for him to share and celebrate his Aboriginal culture and heritage with his peers and the wider community.
Brendan’s father was an Aboriginal from the Clermont area in Queensland’s Isaac Plains region, and Brendan grew up in the nearby town of Nebo listening to stories from his family and other aboriginal people about his rich culture and its history.
“As a boy, hearing the stories about our amazing culture and its background sparked a fire in me to learn and study more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Brendan said.
“I believe our culture is something that should be recognised and celebrated.”
Brendan started at Lake Vermont eight years ago as a heavy machinery operator and assessor and has worked his way into his current position as Training Specialist, which now sees him mentoring other trainers across the site.
In 2017, he was asked to help out with the Sisters in Mining program at Lake Vermont, before the opportunity to be the site’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion became available.
“The role came up earlier this year and after my involvement in the Sisters in Mining program, HR asked me if I was interested. Of course, I said yes.”
Brendan is now the go-to person for anyone wanting more information about Thiess’ diversity and inclusion initiatives on site. He has also become a trusted advisor to anyone with a concern or requiring extra resources and support in the area.
“I’m passionate about the role and driving positive thinking around diversity on site. If everyone can feel comfortable about themselves and the role they perform for the company, it drives better performance,” Brendan said.
Celebrations such as NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week are key focuses for Brendan to engage everyone on site in diversity and inclusion initiatives. Return to work meetings, site barbecues and morning teas provide Brendan with opportunities to talk with the broader team about these celebrations.
Brendan was invited by the local Dysart State School to be a guest speaker at last year’s NAIDOC week celebrations.
“It was a real honour to be invited by the school to speak at their NAIDOC week assembly and see some of the great activities they were involved in to learn more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s heritage and culture.”
In particular, the school children entered a colouring in competition which Brendan and a number of other staff from site were asked to judge, select the winners and present them with a Thiess pack.
The theme of the celebrations were ‘Because of her we can’ – aimed at recognising and celebrating the important role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have and continue to play in our communities all around Australia.
During his presentation, Brendan made special mention of his mother and the important role she has played in his life.
“Without the guidance and support of my mum, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in in my life today.”
He also reminded the audience of how important it is to respect others.
“No matter what gender, race or culture, all people deserve to be shown respect.”
Brendan is working with other Diversity & Inclusion Champions from across the Thiess business to plan for 2019 and develop more ways to get employees in Diversity & Inclusion initiatives.
Thiess’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) formalises our support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within the workplace and beyond. In conjunction with people like Brendan Pollard, the RAP is helping to increase awareness among our people that providing opportunities, respecting Indigenous culture and building lasting relationships is a critical part of how we do business.