When the mullah woman Emily Patten graduated from high school, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.
- New non-profit organization offers employment paths for young people from the first nations in the construction industry
- The program wants to show young women that there is work for them too
- This means that young people can stay in the country but still have many opportunities
She started Certificate III in Education Support, but knew it wasn’t for her.
“I really didn’t know where to go,” Ms. Patten said.
“I worked at Woolworths for over a year. I knew I wanted to do something bigger, but I wasn’t sure where to go and how to get there. ”
But she started talking to Aunt Valda Murray at the Burraj Cultural Center, where the idea came from.
Aunt Walda directed her to a man named Jeb Hutchison.
Mr Hutchison, a proud man from Wiradjuri, is the head of TVN On-Country, heading a commercial construction company with a majority indigenous population based in Wadonza.
The business offered internships to young people from the first nations, showing them the ropes of the industry.
For the past year, Ms. Patten has studied business administration at TVN.
Now she is going to go to university to study construction.
Seeing Ms. Patten’s success, she encouraged Mr. Hutchison to do what he really wanted to do – change the lives of young people of the first nations.
He has now launched On-Country Pathways, a new nonprofit organization owned and operated by Indigenous people that will offer young first-graders jobs and career paths in the commercial construction industry.
Vision of the country
Mr. Hutchison created TVN On-Country with two friends, Jonathan Whelan and Gareth Vannoort, four and a half years ago.
“Opportunities are everything in life. I was given as a child and now I try to give young people as much as I can,” Mr Hutchison said.
TVN offered some internships to young people such as Ms. Patten. But now it’s the official part of the business.
The On-Country Pathways program had several levels: work experience for those still in school; an internship where young people will receive a Certificate III in Business Administration; entry-level employment program; and a cadet program where businesses will pay the candidate for work and study.
Program manager and proud Bidjigal man Darren Moffitt explained that they will use TVN’s extensive contacts in the industry to help find opportunities, and work with high schools, TAFE and universities to promote the program among young people.
“People think that construction is perforators, perforators and appliances, but in fact there are more than 70 different positions in the sector, including business administration and project management,” Mr Moffitt said.
Another important aspect of the program is the mentoring that will be offered to all young people.
“With every program, an important element that ensures that young people move smoothly to work is to make sure they get mentoring in that role,” Mr Moffit said.
Ms. Patten said her mentorship by “powerful women” has helped her feel less insured when entering a male-dominated industry.
“Everyone was so supportive,” she said.
“Getting the opportunity to continue working in this field, to go to university … and find a career for the rest of my life, was amazing.”
We keep children in the country
Mr Hutchison thought it might take him 15 or 20 years to get to where TVN is now.
But he said a lot of people support the program, and the results already speak for themselves.
“Em’s story is a story we’re very proud of because it really repeats that Pathways really works. It came from ignorance to who is teaching me for some reason, ”Mr. Hutchinson said.
Much of what motivated the team was the knowledge that they were investing in their community.
“We hope that we will go abroad more, but this is where we want everything to be right.”
He said the big focus in the program offered young people opportunities in the regions before they got lost “down the M31 to Melbourne or Sydney”.
“It’s a great thing: you don’t have to leave to look for opportunities. To stay in our country,” Mr Hutchinson said.