THE Maritime Union of Australia has joined forces with an Indigenous empowerment body to prepare young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for maritime careers on a tugboat donated by towage company SVITZER Australia. The tug operator has pledged the 30-metre vessel WANDILLA to help the MUA deliver vocational training in cooperation with Redfern’s Tribal Warrior Association. It, despite having very few resources, has already prepared about 2,000

Indigenous youngsters for maritime careers since its mentor programs began in 2003, and the donated tug will help increase the nautical value of them. The Adelaide-built WANDILLA is Tribal Warrior’s first fully dedicated training facility afloat and will equip trainees for seagoing careers by giving them sea hours during training.

SVITZER’s donation follows an idea that MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray first shared with Tribal Warrior Association Chief Executive Shane Phillips three years ago. The realisation of their vision was marked when the WANDILLA was handed over in an official ceremony in Darling Harbour yesterday (Thursday) The WANDILLA was moored at the Maritime Museum’s Main Wharf in Darling Harbour and handed over in a traditional smoking ceremony.

SVITZER Australia MD Mark Malone said his company had donated the 42-year-old working boat - in a pledge worth more than $250,000 in total - to support Indigenous participation and renew a highly experienced workforce.

“Tribal Warrior’s mission to train young mariners is a
great start that dovetails nicely with our employment 
needs moving forward, especially due to the
relatively high average age of our tug crews,” Mr
Malone said. “When we were approached by Ian
Bray, it was a logical decision for us to make and we
view this as more of an investment in young
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mariners than a
donation.” Mr Bray said the project was an
extension of the MUA’s work to identify, develop and
support initiatives that help address disadvantages
experienced by young Aboriginal people. “This project enables them to take full advantage of employment opportunities across the maritime industry,” Mr Bray said.

Tribal Warrior head Shane Phillips said he was excited about the opportunities the project would bring to young Aboriginal people. “It will be good to give them back a sense of ownership to caring for country and we are very grateful for the donation from SVITZER,” Mr Phillips said. “This project is going to provide work experience, skills development, and potentially create employment to benefit the young Aboriginal to build strength to their communities.”