People and community 01 Sep 2018

Raising cultural awareness

Operational discipline, cultural awareness and inclusion and diversity (I&D) have been packaged in a “masterclass” for hundreds of Woodside’s operations employees.

Operational discipline, cultural awareness and inclusion and diversity (I&D) have been packaged in a “masterclass” for hundreds of Woodside’s operations employees.

Early indications suggest the one-day course is a great help in raising awareness among Woodsiders based in Karratha of local Indigenous culture. Operations capability manager Jamie Huthwaite says the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) has been pivotal in its success. 


The origins of the training course go back to discussions last year about the need to ensure employees on the front line have a clear understanding of key processes, the way Woodside works and the company’s expectations in areas such as Ensure Safe Production. 

It was also recognised that commitments made under our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) stipulate all employees complete a cultural learning activity by 2020.

There are significant logistical issues to organise training for almost 400 rostered operators so it was decided to combine I&D and cultural awareness training with the promotion of safe and reliable production. Months of work went into designing an engaging, interactive course. Operations capability analyst Katrina Rees, operations process owner Ross Trainer and Mike Banfield of the production operations team were closely involved. MAC agreed to hold a welcome to country ceremony at Deep Gorge in the Murujuga National Park (MNP) followed by a tour of Indigenous rock art. 

MAC Headquarters, on the outskirts of Karratha, hosted the cultural awareness induction. “We then thought that that would be a great venue for the whole course,” says Katrina. “MAC went above and beyond to help us achieve that ambition.” 

Every session includes 15 to 20 operations workers, and indigenous representatives from Indigenous-owned contractor Matera Electrical. The morning sessions centre on building cultural awareness of the MNP in the Burrup Peninsula. 

The Murujuga Rangers give the cultural awareness induction and MAC’s Conrad Aubrey gives a passionate and knowledgeable talk. “We wanted to educate people about the place in which they work because a lot of people drive through there and have little knowledge of the history of the MNP and the Burrup,” explains Katrina. 

The program includes a 90-minute discussion on behaviours in workplace to affect inclusivity in the workplace, put together by Indigenous employment adviser Marisa Bradshaw, the I&D focal point at Karratha. “We recognised that for a more diverse and inclusive workforce, our employees needed to understand how they could contribute individually,” says Marisa. “Using ‘I understand, I own, I act’, and encouraging each person to make a personal commitment, has provided employees with this opportunity. “It’s about every single person recognising how diverse our workplace is and building an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work and celebrate their diversity.” The afternoon session comprises a series of facilitated activities that focus on operational discipline, managing risk and process safety management. 

Feedback from those who have taken the course has been extremely positive. “I will be passing this experience on to the rest of my family members,” said one. “Interactive and enjoyable,” said another. “I gained valuable knowledge of Indigenous culture.”

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