Indigenous apprentices celebrate one year

Image: Indigenous apprentices
Image: Indigenous apprentices

Our first Indigenous apprentices are celebrating the completion of their first year on the job.

Geraldine Cook and Bobby Ambrum are based in Mount Isa and work on the Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) as apprentice pipeline operators.

The pair have been involved with Zinfra’s sister company, Jemena, since early 2018, when they participated in and graduated from the NGP Project Ready Training Program before gaining construction work with pipeline company Spiecapag.

Gerry and Bobby then participated and graduated from the NGP’s Gas Operator Training Program in Tennant Creek before being successful in gaining their apprenticeships.

Bobby said he had to think hard about taking the apprenticeship opportunity.

“I was happy but a bit nervous at the same time because I never worked near or on a gas plant before. After hearing stories about how dangerous things can get when working in the gas industry, I started thinking I wasn’t ready for that kind of lifestyle and I was in over my head. But after swallowing my fears I decided to give it a go. My biggest learning curve so far has been learning how the safety operating systems work and how to bring the station back online,” said Bobby.

Gerry wants to use this opportunity for self-development and for the greater good.

“I’m are single mother of four children. I thought if I tried applying for this apprenticeship program it might give me an opportunity to open another door to another level of different skills and better future for me and my children. Someday I’d like to do mentoring to younger generations of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

The pair are under the mentorship of Frank Osredkar, Pipeline Operator who congratulated them on their milestone.

“Undertaking an apprenticeship is a challenge and a commitment. Bobby and Gerry have shown a strong commitment and willingness to learn, which is wonderful. They work with projects, get an understanding of different parts of the compressor station, they’re involved in setting up procedures, not only the running of a gas station but the maintenance of compressors and utilities, along with mainline valves along the easement, easement patrols and ROW works. I’m really happy for them on a job well done.”

Dean Stapleton, NGP Operations Field Manager, said he was proud that the company was training local people.

“It’s really pleasing to see some young locals being given this opportunity and that Gerry and Bobby will both become talented pipeline operators. I hope we can repeat the process once Gerry and Bobby have completed their apprenticeship,” Dean said.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.