The Government is continuing its support of the successful Working in Partnership (WIP) program which works to strengthen the relationship between mining and Indigenous communities by improving opportunities for Indigenous communities and individuals whilst providing benefits to the Australian mining industry.
Working in Partnership, or WIP as it is commonly known, commenced in 2001 and has proved a successful formula for information sharing and relationship building between the exploration and mining industry and Indigenous communities in areas around Australia where mining is prominent.
This program allows us to build long-term relationships between Indigenous communities and the mining industry. Building these relationships is now widely regarded by the industry as core business and offers significant advantages to all concerned - the industry benefits from a local source of employees and service providers, and the Indigenous community benefits from employment and business opportunities that mining and related industries can provide.
Working in Partnership provides the opportunity for groups to come together in an informal and neutral environment to discuss issues of concern and talk about ways forward. It also provides an opportunity for the companies and Indigenous communities to share information on successful partnership approaches to companies and Indigenous groups that are new to the process.
By the middle of 2011, 21 workshops and other fora had been conducted in regional areas throughout Australia. From the feedback gained at these workshops, both communities and industry seem to find them a successful mechanism for establishing relationships. Experience with the program has shown that the various forums conducted under WIP has provided a platform for the development of training, employment and business opportunities for Indigenous communities and has lead to shared understanding of industry and community aspirations for improved community engagement.
We will continue to work closely with our state and territory Government counterparts, Indigenous communities and the exploration and mining industry to ensure the ongoing success of this program. I would like to thank all those people who have been involved in WIP to date, your participation has been invaluable and we look forward to working with you again in the future.
Hon Martin Ferguson AM, MP
Minister for Resources and Energy