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SWC village of support empowering trainees

The common phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child comes from an African proverb that means that ‘an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment’.

BHP Mitsui Coal's (BMC) South Walker Creek Mine (SWC) has reimagined the concept by building their own village, or a ‘village of support’, in a way that empowers their new to industry trainees to have the confidence to extend themselves and be remarkable.

SWC Coal Handling and Preparation Plant Manager (CHPP), Pauline Royal, said that parents, as teachers, can only teach their kids so much, with the rest of what you learn coming from everyone around you.

"The same principle can apply to new trainees to industry - making sure they are learning from their work peers and not solely relying on the shoulders of trainers," Pauline said. 

The support for trainees is grounded by a shared vision of inclusion where everyone contributes their fair share. They offer each other support and team members have diverse skillsets and transferrable knowledge.

"We know this approach works because our village of support is embedded in our work culture," she said.

Jami Webb was new to the coal industry when she commenced her SWC traineeship in 2018. She was initially assigned to her trainer assessor, John Bellingham, for 12 months, but after some time John thought there were other ways they could optimise Jami’s traineeship experience.

"SWC’s new emphasis on building a village of support for trainees has helped to empower our trainees with a confidence to take action to shape their own training outcomes," John said.

Jami said that the learnings she gained from other senior crew members were invaluable.

"My crew have also been top notch. They seemed as invested in me as John, and that really helped me get the most out of this traineeship," she said.

Empowering others through learning relies on mentoring, social interaction and peer networks. The SWC ‘village of support’ through peer encouragement, has helped Jami’s confidence grow and to take control of her learning experience. Jami's peers have embraced the village philosophy and are excited about encouraging future trainees to strive to be remarkable.