Cat lights up the tunnel

WESTERN Australian Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is working with local charity and training organisation Fairbridge to break the vicious circle for incarcerated Indigenous men by helping them find work when they are released.
Cat lights up the tunnel Cat lights up the tunnel Cat lights up the tunnel Cat lights up the tunnel Cat lights up the tunnel

Bindjareb program participants

WesTrac lends its Cat equipment to participants of the Bindjareb program, which provides training for eligible minimum-security prisoners at Karnet prison farm ahead of their release.

In recent times the plant dealer has also run training days at its Guildford headquarters.

The Bindjareb program aims to counter the sad reality that men stuck in the system most often lack the basic skills needed to get a job and lead a stable life on the outside, so they end up back where they started, again and again.

WesTrac CEO Jarvas Croome said more than 90% of participants finished the scheme and more than 40% of recent graduates had gone on to find work, and by the end of the program they had a real direction and self-belief.

Through the program 10-12 pre-release prisoners go through a 14-week course, with intensive training and mentoring, to gain relevant trade qualifications.

The participants leave the prison each day and train on plant equipment such as graders, loaders, skid steers, watercarts and side tippers.

The men are cutting their teeth on a Cat 14M grader and a 930 loader at the moment.
Program manager Brett Hawthorn said it gave people a hand-up, not a hand-out.

"We want them to leave here with new cultural, life and work knowledge plus the support network they need to make sustainable change in their lives," he said.

According to Bindjareb trainer and mentor George Miles, the prisoners are different people by the end of the course.

"We get to hear about some of them getting married, buying them a nice car, a house, and taking photos with their newborns," he said.

"Some have long criminal histories, and at the end of the course they come out and say I'm never going back there."

WesTrac used equipment and rental business manager Darren Hall said the team at WesTrac got a real sense of personal achievement and accomplishment from interacting with the guys and sharing their knowledge, and plenty of employees are keen to get involved and help out.

Hall said the next step for WesTrac might be to take on a course graduate.

"At the last graduation I attended, I brought down a couple of our HR team so, we're looking at future possibilities of being able to employ one of them, too."