The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is partnering with the Clontarf Foundation to support the education, training and employment of indigenous youth in communities along the Inland Rail alignment.
The Inland Rail Skills Academy will provide $500,000 in funding to support 13 Clontarf Academies along the rail corridor in Queensland and New South Wales to help boost school retention, develop leadership and create pathways to employment through training opportunities for Indigenous regional youth.
ARTC Inland Rail Interim Chief Executive Rebecca Pickering said Inland Rail is set to not only change the way Australia moves freight between all mainland states; but will act as a catalyst for positive change in many regional communities along the rail alignment.
“A major focus of Inland Rail has been on building skills for these communities to participate in this once-in-a-generation project as well as future projects,” Mrs Pickering said. “The Inland Rail Skills Academy is a catalyst for them to achieve that. This partnership between the Academy and Clontarf will deliver programs which build skills and prosperity in local communities.”
“We need to have people ready to capitalise on the opportunities that Inland Rail will bring. The Inland Rail Skills Academy is about facilitating opportunities for those willing to take the first step and we are very much in step with what the Clontarf Foundation is trying to achieve by improving the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of our Indigenous youth,” she said.
“Rail and associated industries are projected to experience skills shortages in the near future. The Inland Rail Skills Academy will facilitate training to increase the chances of local people to fill these positions as well as building their capability in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and connecting them with industry best practice.
“We are committed to playing our part in upskilling the nation and ensuring that different groups of people are given the opportunity to help build Inland Rail. Through the Inland Rail Skills Academy, we are supporting regional students to study and that contributes positively to the many regional communities along the Inland Rail corridor.”
The Clontarf Foundation operates academies in schools across Australia providing structure and daily support for Indigenous youth. ARTC is supporting their goals around school retention, development of soft skills including leadership and links to employment and training opportunities for those academies along the Inland Rail alignment.
Clontarf Foundation spokesperson Gerard Neesham said through the partnership students at the Ambrose Treacy (Indooroopilly), Goondiwindi, Toowoomba (Harristown, Toowoomba and Wilsonton), Moree, Narrabri, Dubbo (South Dubbo, Delroy Senior School), Narromine, Coonamble and Wagga Wagga will have access to programs facilitated by the Inland Rail Skills Academy.
“Our footprint across Queensland and New South Wales continues to grow so we look forward to engaging with Inland Rail over the next two years in a number of locations where our operations will co-exist.” Mr Neesham said.
“This significant partnership will provide endless training and employment opportunities for the young Aboriginal men in our program and also allow Inland Rail staff opportunities to interact and build relationships with Clontarf students in a number of communities,” he said.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton welcomed the partnership between Inland Rail and the Clontarf Foundation and said it will deliver real outcomes to the Moree, Narrabri, Dubbo, Narromine and Coonamble communities.
“As a fierce advocate for both Inland Rail and the Clontarf Foundation, I’m absolutely delighted to see this partnership form,” Mr Coulton said.
“The Clontarf academies throughout my electorate have delivered outstanding results, helping to boost the educational and employment outcomes for our young Indigenous boys.
“I’m confident that the partnership with Inland Rail will only enhance the work that Clontarf does, providing wonderful opportunities for students to develop job-ready skills and gain employment after school.
“Inland Rail is more than just a rail line, it’s delivering lasting benefits to communities right along the route.”
Member for Groom Garth Hamilton said the construction of Inland Rail would leave a lasting legacy on regional communities along the alignment and it was important to encourage the next generation to take advantage of every new market and opportunity created.
“This is a world class infrastructure project happening right in the heart of regional Australia. Some of our nation’s top talent will be involved in delivering Inland Rail, providing an incredible upskilling opportunity for local people,” Mr Hamilton said.
“I want my region to extract every benefit from this project and the Inland Rail Skills Academy is a fantastic initiative to make this happen.”
“As a former mining engineer, I hope this program acts as a gateway for interested Clontarf students to break into engineering and construction fields.”