Growing up in remote mining towns in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, McArthur River Mining’s Carrie Bendeich has always had a deep connection to the local communities she’s lived in.
It comes as no surprise that she chose a career path that would see her working with similarly culture-rich communities in regional and remote Australia.
“I had lived-experience of cross-cultural environments from a very young age with my parents’ overseas work in the mining industry,” Carrie says.
“We were always very involved in the communities we lived in, leaving me with a deep understanding and respect for cultural differences.”
Her connection to community remains strong to this day – albeit a little closer to home.
Carrie heads up McArthur River Mining’s Indigenous Employment Program, where she is based at the mine, about 900 kilometres from Darwin.
The program is a key initiative of the company’s Cultural Respect Strategy, which was launched in 2020 and provides sustainable employment pathways for people living in the small Territory town of Borroloola and other communities of the Gulf region.
“McArthur River Mining has always had a strong history of recruiting locally, but this newly-formed program provides us the opportunity to further our reach and provide the appropriate cultural support for our employees to succeed.”
The goal of the program is two-fold.
“The methodology aims for sustainable and viable employment for people of the Gulf region while ensuring a culturally safe environment for all our people at the mine,” Carrie says
“We’ve worked closely with community stakeholders to achieve the recent employment of 23 trainees, which included a number of Roper Gulf Regional Council’s Community Development Program participants.”
Two of these trainees are local men, Alan Baker and Chris Pluto, who have joined the mine as Cultural Advisors. Both Alan and Chris have also taken on mentoring roles.
“People in the community are proud to see us working at the mine,” Alan says. “It’s easier for them to make the first step because we are working here.”
Chris shares similar sentiments.
“I am proud people are looking up to me as a mentor,” he says.
“Before and after work the other trainees come and find us to talk about their day. Even when I’m on break I’m on the phone making sure everyone knows what they’re doing.”
Carrie says part of the success of the program has been the career planning sessions, where candidates have the opportunity to experience different workplaces at the mine to get a feel for what area interests them as a career.
“Career pathway planning is integral to the program, as we strive to support the development of Indigenous leadership within the business,” she says.
Carrie has also developed resources and trained mentors to facilitate McArthur River Mining’s Youth Mentoring Network with students from Borroloola School.
“It was amazing to have two students from Borroloola School participate in the Youth Mentoring Network, and then achieve their goals by successfully commencing traineeships to work alongside their mentors.
“The strategic intent of our Cultural Respect Strategy is for a culturally safe and equitable workplace at McArthur River Mine, and I’m proud to work with people and a company that strives every day to ensure this.”