Mining workplace education pilot builds safety and respect

The parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO industry exposed the worst of the sector. What came next might just be the best.

To address the issues brought to light in the inquiry, key WA mining companies Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group pooled their resources to find a solution in October 2021.

The result is the Building Safe and Respectful Workplaces program, an evidence-based program developed in consultation with leading experts to educate new entrants to the sector.

An industry first, the program goes beyond sexual harassment, covering the impact of sexual harassment, bullying and racism, including how to recognise and report these behaviours.

The pilot program was held over two days last week, with 30 volunteers undertaking apprenticeships or traineeships with one of the three companies taking part.

Delivered by experienced facilitators from Griffith University and managed by the Australian Minerals and Energy Skills Alliance (AUSMESA), the successful pilot was an important step in the process.

The results of the pilot will be used to finalise the learning program after feedback has been gathered from participants, before rolling it out more broadly early next year.

While it’s still early days and change won’t happen overnight, the influence these three companies wield in Australia should not be underestimated.

BHP has almost 30,000 employees in Australia, FMG has more than 5000 Australian employees, and Rio Tinto has more than 12,000 employees in the Pilbara alone.

There were 123,020 FTE employees in WA’s resources sector in the last census, representing more than one in six of all West Australians with full-time employment.

By bolstering in-house training for the existing workforce with a program targeted at new starters at three of the sector’s biggest employers, Rio Tinto, BHP and FMG have charted a path for a better future for WA workplaces in mining and beyond.

Note, Rio Tinto is a client of ReGen Strategic.


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