Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

SA Water Staff

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Supplementary: given that SA Water has a goal to increase its Aboriginal employment to 2.5 per cent, if I heard correctly, how many employees are identified as Aboriginal now?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): I thank the honourable member for her question. I don’t have an exact number of employees for SA Water. They are a significant employer and one of the biggest employers certainly that the state government has that does this sort of infrastructure work, so it will not be a small number. I will get an exact number and come back with an answer for the honourable member.

Answer: 11/05/17

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I understand that a question was asked of the Leader of the Government by the Hon. Kelly Vincent yesterday on the number of SA Water Aboriginal employees. As of today, I understand that 1.66 per cent of SA Water employees identify as being Aboriginal. I understand also that SA Water has three new Aboriginal employees set to commence, with contracts to be signed shortly. This will increase the number to 1.85 per cent of staff.

Original Question:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation. Will the minister please update the chamber on how SA Water publicly is committing to reconciliation?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): I thank the honourable member for her very important question. I am pleased to be able to update the chamber on the important work that SA Water is undertaking with their Reconciliation Action Plan (known as the RAP). The RAP has been developed by SA Water to ensure the needs, expectations and aspirations of Aboriginal staff are understood. It seeks to deliver a better life for the communities they serve across the state and improve the way in which SA Water promotes reconciliation.

As a significant South Australian employer right across the state, SA Water is in a unique position to positively influence outcomes for South Australian Aboriginal people. SA Water’s Reconciliation Action Plan builds on a number of achievements arising from its three predecessors. One is the Kauwi Interpretive Centre on the site of the Adelaide Desalination Plant. The interpretive centre was built to engage and inform visitors on the cultural significance of water for the Kaurna people. Kauwi is the Kaurna word for water. Out the front, a living bush tucker garden showcases plants that provide foods, medicines and tools. The centre is a living collection of stories and memories from the world’s oldest living culture.

SA Water works closely with 18 remote Aboriginal communities across South Australia, providing important water and sewerage services. The new plan includes actions to find further opportunities to connect more people to safe, clean drinking water supplies. The Reconciliation Action Plan also includes a commitment to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 2.5 per cent of SA Water’s workforce. I am informed by SA Water that they will do this by:

  • adopting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment and retention plan by June of this year;
  • implementing a high school careers program; and
  • opening up new employment pathway programs to entice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying with scholarship and graduate placements.

The plan also commits to:

  • ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are flown outside SA Water House and at all major regional offices by the end of 2018;
  • SA Water hosting two reconciliation week events each year;
  • develop five commercial relationships per year with Aboriginal-owned businesses with an aim of a $100,000 annual spend by 2020;
  • provide targeted training to Aboriginal businesses to enhance their ability to work with the water industry;
  • create a program for Aboriginal schools to improve water conservation activities in remote communities; and
  • work with traditional owners to develop knowledge sharing sessions and posters to raise awareness of the importance of South Australia’s water.

I congratulate SA Water for the work they are doing for this Reconciliation Action Plan and I look forward to seeing how it develops over the years.