SA Water is rolling out a DIY plumbing course to more Aboriginal communities across South Australia, after a successful run in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands over the past two years and demand from other regions.
The course is currently delivered throughout the year at the APY Trade Training Centre in Umuwa or at a central space within four other local communities, with the help of a compact travelling workbench fitted with taps, pipes and tubes.
SA Water’s Manager of Community and Aboriginal Engagement Rachael Siddall said as part of the course, its people from various locations and disciplines provide hands-on training in basic plumbing skills to local students and community members.
“For the communities, the sessions provide the practical benefit of being able to fix a leaky tap or toilet and reduce water loss in the region, which is really valuable in a remote area like the APY Lands, when a plumber isn’t simply a phone call away,” Rachael said.
“Our crews and contractors are responsible for maintaining infrastructure like treatment plants and large underground pipes which supply our local customers, but understanding your own internal plumbing and how to safely fix it is useful information for everyone.
“We continue to receive positive feedback from the participants – more than 125 to date – as well as our people, who get to do something outside of their normal workday and immerse themselves in a potentially new culture and environment.
“We put great value on having a culturally-aware workforce, as it leads to improved relationships within the organisation and with our contract partners and suppliers, increased trust and understanding, better decision-making, and more inclusive outcomes.
“The plumbing course helps us to build meaningful relationships with the communities and open up conversations on water and sustainability. It’s a simple but innovative idea that is a true reflection of Reconciliation in action.”
SA Water has recently released its Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2020-2023, which was developed through a comprehensive engagement process, including online and face-to-face surveys and workshops with SA Water staff, Aboriginal communities and leaders, and other key stakeholders across South Australia.
One of the RAP initiatives is to expand the DIY plumbing course to the state’s west coast and several Aboriginal homelands.
“Since beginning the course in the APY Lands in 2018, we have learnt what works in terms of both equipment and delivery of the training, and this has come through listening and working together with the local communities to make sure we’re providing something fit for purpose and engaging for different age groups,” Rachael said.
“It’s this refinement and the team’s ability to adapt and evolve the course where needed, that gives us the confidence it can be extended to more regions.
“Word of mouth about the program has circulated, with communities in the far west coast inviting us to provide the course to local residents, and this is what led us to including its expansion within our RAP actions.
“While we are keen to begin rolling out the course across other Aboriginal communities and resume it within the APY Lands, safeguarding the health of the people who live in these areas and our visiting teams, by helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, is the most important thing right now.
“A timeframe for the course expansion will be led by health guidelines and engagement with the local communities, but we are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and skills with more people sometime in the near future.”
The 2020-2023 Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is SA Water’s fourth RAP and second Stretch RAP. To read the new RAP, visit sawater.com.au.
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