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14 Jul 2022

Supporting young Aboriginal talent, opening up future career paths

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Procurement and employment are key focus areas of our recently launched Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (2022-2024). Our contract with ARA Indigenous Services creates long-term employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like Charlize, a proud Gangulu woman, who maintains fire systems across our Westfield Living Centres. 

We are privileged that Charlize shared her story with us, describing how she not only found employment through ARA Indigenous Services (ARAIS), but found herself too.   

Wind back to 2020, Charlize was finishing high school, had dedicated her time to football and was excited but a little bit unsure about what the future held for her as she started the next chapter of her life. 

Charlize heard of the ARAIS Sprinkler Technician apprenticeship through her cousin – a recommendation which led her to shift the trajectory of her life and career prospects.   

Charlize said: “The apprenticeship with ARAIS sounded interesting, something completely different to football and I thought why not give it a try.” 

Charlize commenced her apprenticeship and struggled with time management.  Fresh out of high school, she put her social life before her work and in Charlize’s words, “didn’t have my head screwed on.” 

“I was very close with my football team.  Not long after I’d started at ARAIS, I lost a close friend in my team to mental health issues.  

“I’d never lost anyone close to me like that before, and I felt a responsibility that I didn’t do enough to help her – especially when I’d been in a similar position with my mental health in the past. 

“Shortly after losing my friend, I lost members of my family and I struggled to find the balance between full-time work, football, my life at home and my emotions.  I was hitting rock-bottom.” 

Charlize took a moment to pause, supported wholeheartedly by the team at ARAIS who inspired her to shift her mindset to focus on small goals every day.  This drove her motivation to get something done, whether it be small or big, and opened her eyes to the future. 

“I quit football – I left something behind that had always been a part of my life.  The ARAIS team stood by me, teaching me how to do better, and how to find balance by setting achievable goals. I put my energy into work, journaled and in 2021, I started playing football again. 

“Work ended up being my outlet and distraction.  The goals I was achieving led me to who I was becoming, and I found a balance I didn’t know could exist. 

“The Wiimali program which ARAIS facilitate taught me new skills and is a key reason I found who I was in life.  The team believed in me, so I started to believe in me. I could take this opportunity and make it my own – something to be proud of in life.” 

National Contracts Manager and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group team member, Aaron Galea said: “Our partnership with ARAIS over the next five years provides a unique way to tackle the challenge of attracting and recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to work within our business. 

“We are given regular updates about the Wiimali program, including recruitment, training and how we can further support staff outcomes and opportunities. 

“We feel inspired and motivated by Charlize’s remarkable story, and it reflects the improved social and economic outcomes we strive to achieve through our RAP employment initiatives and opportunities.” 

Scentre Group is proud to partner with ARAIS with a requirement to support employment being an integral part of the contract. This represents the largest financial commitment by Scentre Group to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business to date. 

Our third Reconciliation Plan was released in May. A copy of this plan can be read here.