School attendance and retention of indigenous students is a major national challenge.

A South Australia-based uranium miner is doing its part with an award-winning program designed to change the attitude of indigenous youth towards school and careers.

Heathgate Resources was recently awarded the Indigenous Employment and Retention Award for its program to improve the retention and success of Indigenous students in South Australia at the 2017 AMMA Industry Awards held in Perth.

Heathgate’s HR Manager Keri Chalker (left) and Senior HR Advisor Jacquie Dealtry (right), accepting the award with AMMA Chief Executive Steve Knott.

The company has a target of 20 per cent employment for the Adnyamathanha people from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

“Through its Native Title agreement, Heathgate Resources acknowledged the shortage of potential candidates if the trend continued and were proactive in ensuring sustainability and longevity of its workforce,” AMMA Director Industry Services Tara Diamond said.

Heathgate developed the Aboriginal School Mentoring Program (ASMP) to provide an educational experience offering young Aboriginal school students the belief and confidence to finish school along with the skills and opportunities in identifying future career choices.

“The program importantly focuses on improving the chances of Indigenous students finishing school and gaining a greater understanding of the opportunities available for them by working in the resources industry,” Ms Diamond said.

“It’s important to have these types of programmes which provide opportunities for students to work on their own land, while gaining vital and interchangeable skills for the future.”

The program partners with Career Employment Group (CEG), Pt Augusta Secondary School (PASS) and Nature Foundation SA, with Heathgate developing a robust and well-rounded program to help facilitate students’ future careers in the Resources sector.

Career guidance and mentoring, on-site work experience opportunities, training and career opportunities, all form part of the program.

An integral part of the program includes a camp developing life skills and land management.

Heathgate is the owner and operator of the Beverley and Beverley North Uranium Mines which are located some 550km north of Adelaide in South Australia.

Beverley, which began production in late 2000, is Australia’s first operating In Situ Recovery (ISR) mine.