It’s all about a job for life, not a qualification

TWO new bike racks, designed and manufactured by Aboriginal men, are ready for use at Gateway Island.

The colourful racks, in the shape of a goanna and a large fish, which were installed in November, can be seen from the causeway.

The men who made them had no previous metal-work skills.

The Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation, Wilson Transformers and Workways combined for the project.

Mungabareena chief Matt Burke said the men had loved working on a project that had enhanced their lives.

“I got really emotional when one young man said the program would allow him to buy a house — not rent, buy a house,” he said.

Participants completed their Certificate II, but Mr Burke said he wanted qualification for the project to be different than others.

“I wanted the outcome to be job related,” he said.

“Often you smile at the end of your course, have a happy snap, and then be put out into the bad world of unemployment.

“With this one at the end they get a job, so they stay with us.

“We skill them up and then we go out and actively find them a job.

“In 28 months we’ve got 19 into traineeships.”

Wilson Transformers’ Rodney Anderson said the process had opened up opportunities for the youths involved.

“It shows them there are positions in the workforce and they can achieve goals,” he said.

Participant, Martin Patten, 33, said he now enjoyed working with metal and was seeking a career as a welder.

“I like my own projects and seeing the finished product,” Mr Patten said. “It makes me really proud.

“I made my mum a chair with a table for Mother’s Day and I like making gifts for my family.”

He said anyone considering such projects “should throw themselves straight into it”.

“My skills got better and better as time went on,” he said.

The Wodonga Council backed the project and artist Vicki Luke helped participants with the design process.

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