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All-women heavy machinery training breaks new ground

Indigenous women were the focus of a new heavy machinery operation training program coordinated by Cape York Natural Resource Management.

The women, from Hopevale, Laura, Cooktown and Mossman, were training for their Level 1 tickets at a gully erosion remediation site at Lakeland last month.

It’s the first female-only training session conducted by Cape York NRM and was developed to  encourage more women to take part in a broader project designed to increase understanding on how to manage erosion on Country and to improve employable skills for the region. 

“The first two rounds of training were mostly male participants,” Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries and Water Quality Manager Michael Goddard said. “We chose to have an all-female round to make attendees feel more comfortable learning alongside their peers.”

The training involved Level 1 skills in skid steer, roller and loader operation.

For participant Fenice Yoren the goals were clear. At 28, the Hopevale Indigenous woman was determined to get all the heavy machinery tickets she needed to get a job in earthmoving in Cape York.

Fenice wanted her qualifications to include her Loader Level 1 ticket, and to consolidate her knowledge and skills in roller and skid steer operation.

She said the all-women's training was “a lot of fun, with a lot of laughter”. She undertook similar training last year in a mixed group which was “a bit frustrating”.

“We didn’t get as much time on the machines,” she said.

Anselm Harrigan, from Normanby Station, thinks the session is a “fantastic” idea. It’s the second time Anselm has been involved in the training of young recruits as an Indigenous cultural liaison.

“It gives them an opportunity to get out there, and doesn’t make them think in an Indigenous way, you know, that men have got to do everything and they’ve got to stay put in the camp,” he said.

“There are a lot of people out there looking for operators, and females now are stepping up. This new generation — this is where it starts.”

Anselm says the training sessions were opening new doors for young Indigenous people in general.

“It’s good to see all the young rangers and people coming through that are keen to get their machinery tickets. It’s good for a future resource… and by getting a ticket it makes them feel like they have something to look towards in the future.

“Especially in remote communities where they don’t get a lot of opportunities and people like us are trying to support our own people to get more hands on deck.”

Fenice will be joining her eight co-participants in June for a presentation of certificates by Cape York NRM. 

“All of the women were successful in gaining Level 1 tickets in roller, skid steer and loader operations so we’re pretty happy with these results,” Michael said. 


This project is funded by the Queensland Government's Natural Resources Investment Program.

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