Energy Minister Francis Logan today launched a new program to train members of remote Aboriginal communities to assist in the management and maintenance of their own power systems.
Mr Logan said the innovative Aboriginal Communities Training Program would help avoid long delays in maintenance and ensure communities were supplied with safe and reliable power supplies.
He said the program would also offer a unique employment opportunity for Aboriginal people interested in attaining nationally recognised qualifications within the electricity supply industry.
The program would assist the communities of Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Djarindjin/Lombadina, Ardyaloon and Warmun, where electricity supplies had been recently upgraded by the construction of new power stations, underground power networks and metering arrangements.
“The isolation and size of these communities presents challenges in regard to maintenance and responding to power supply issues,” the Minister said.
“Horizon Power’s new training program will equip local people with the knowledge and skills to carry out basic construction and maintenance tasks on the local power supply. This will avoid delays in waiting for a linesman to drive long distances, often in flooding rain.”
Mr Logan said members of each community would be trained as electrical ‘Essential Services Officers’ at Horizon Power’s Broome offices and in their own communities.
He said the nationally recognised training would allow the officers to carry out a range of tasks on the overhead and underground electrical distribution networks. They would be working in a non-energised, isolated environment - and not on live powerlines.
“On completion of the program, Essential Services Officers (ESO) will have the opportunity to expand their training and become qualified linesmen in any town or city in Australia,” the Minister said.
Horizon Power managing director Rod Hayes said engagement with the communities would be a major part of the program’s success.
“Horizon Power met with community leaders to discuss the training program, advertised in the communities for expressions of interest for positions and then liaised with the leaders to review the nominees and identify the numbers required for interview,” Mr Hayes said.
“In this way, local community members have been empowered to play a significant role in managing the way services are delivered in their community.”
Kimberley MLA Carol Martin said the program would have many benefits for the communities, especially in providing significant employment opportunities for its members.
Mrs Martin said four men had already begun their training at the ESO training school, which was based at Horizon Power’s office in Broome.
“These men will be supported by a qualified linesman, based in Lombadina, who will act as trainer and mentor for the on-the-job components of the training,” she said.
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