Reconciliation Week special: Indigenous mentors inspire and build confidence

Two women standing side by side, smiling at the camera. In the background is an Australian Aboriginal flag

Victoria (right) with Indigenous Mentor Sarah Davidson

This story was first published on Wednesday 29 May 2019. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

The following stories, all from Western Australia, are by women who transformed their own and their family’s lives with the help of jobactive Indigenous mentors.

Jobactive providers across Australia employ Indigenous mentors who play a vital role supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with culturally appropriate career advice in a positive environment.

Victoria's story

Victoria is a survivor with a bright future. After leaving an abusive relationship, living with a relative with substance abuse issues, and caring for her terminally ill father, she connected with Indigenous Mentor Sarah Davidson. Victoria is now establishing a thriving career in mining. 

When her father passed away, Victoria made contact with Kambarang Place, an Indigenous women’s refuge. 

“They took me in, looked after me, supported me in everything and provided counselling. I cried a lot. I was with them for just over three months until they assisted me in finding me somewhere to live,” Victoria said.

The refuge encouraged Victoria to start an Indigenous program Yira Yarkiny (meaning ‘To stand tall’)  and to work with Sarah.

“Sarah asked me if I would be interested in fly-in fly-out mining work as a peggy worker. I thought why not!” Victoria said. 

A peggy worker performs a range of roles at a mining site, including cleaning crib rooms and transporting workers from camp to site.

“With Sarah’s support I updated my resume and was amazed I was offered an interview right away. Sarah asked me if I wanted and needed support for my interview and offered to drive me there. I met with the employer and, after the interview, I was told I was successful and that I got the job.”

After completing the medical tests and online induction, Victoria started on her first job at a Cloud Break Mine and received positive feedback from her employer. 

“I loved it! I had a few hiccups along the way with racism. I knew right then with the support the mining company gave me and the support from Sarah that they were the right company for me. It was dealt with in an amazing manner.”

Her employer has continued to put her forward for more jobs and she has been given further training, including working at heights, confined spaces, gas testing and fire emergency response, so she can apply for trades assistant roles.

“Overall, I’m loving life at the moment and so proud of who I am and who I have become. I am a proud Aboriginal woman. Believe in yourself because it can happen. It has to me.”

Victoria’s jobactive provider is ESG Matchworks in Gosnells, Western Australia.

Tina's story 

Tina is now a valued member of the housekeeping team at a local hotel

Tina, a stay-at-home mum, connected with Indigenous Mentor Kerrie Stones in Kalgoorlie, who helped her prepare an impressive resume to gain her first job at the local Rydges hotel.

Not having any work history, Tina needed Kerrie’s encouragement and support to build her confidence and communication skills to help her look for a job. Together, they discussed the local job market and prepared a resume targeting roles in hospitality and cleaning.

In talking with Kerrie, Tina discovered that her organisational, time management and cleaning skills, gained while caring for her family, were valued by employers. They also worked together to build up Tina’s self-confidence and communication skills. 

Through her contacts with local businesses, Kerrie brokered a trial opportunity with a hotel housekeeping team. 

Although she was initially nervous, Tina made a great impression and was soon offered a job. Six months on and Tina has been steadily increasing her hours and is a valued member of the housekeeping team.

“I’m really loving working and the work I’m doing. MAX really helped me find a job in something I really love doing when I didn’t think I would be given a chance. I’m very happy.”

Tina’s jobactive provider is MAX Employment, Kalgoorlie.

Sarah' story

Sarah Bell is a single parent to five children and had been a stay-at-home mum for 10 years. With the help of Indigenous Mentor Joey, she finished a traineeship and is now an apprentice boilermaker.

Joey explained that even though she had no work history, he could see that Sarah had a lot of potential and just needed help figuring out her goals and gaining the confidence to apply for work.

“We sat down together and talked about her goals for her future and her children’s future,” Joey said. 

“Sarah decided to explore the option of a traineeship in the mining industry. I helped her prepare her job application and provided regular support to help her build her self-esteem and confidence ahead of the interview.” 

Joey accessed the Employment Fund to purchase work-suitable clothing for Sarah and provide fuel assistance to help her travel to the interview.

After the interview, Sarah was offered a 12-week traineeship. She received top marks and was then offered an apprenticeship in a trade of her choice.

“The whole process was a bit nerve-wracking for me, but I was able to call Joey anytime to talk through my worries. He helped me to believe in myself and start a new chapter in my life,” Sarah said.

“I chose to do the boilermaker apprenticeship because I already had the qualification of a trade assistant. This upgraded my skills, and I wanted to be an inspiration to my five children.” 

Sarah’s jobactive provider is Salvation Army Employment Plus in Bunbury, Western Australia.

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Correct at time of publication.