Levelling the field for Indigenous employment at Mont Albert and Surrey Hills

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Launching a business during a pandemic is a bold move, but one that’s already paying off for waste management and recycling company Djurwa and the vulnerable community members it supports.

Starting with just one truck in 2021, the Indigenous majority-owned business has quickly grown to a fleet of six trucks and hundreds of bins, partnering with Victoria’s Big Build to work on some of Melbourne’s biggest infrastructure programs, including the Union Road, Surrey Hills and Mont Albert Road, Mont Albert level crossing removal projects.

Djurwa supplied commercial waste bins to site to enable the project team to sort and recycle waste streams, as well as skip-bin services to recycle demolition and construction waste products, enabling the project to minimise environmental impacts and the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“That was our first major contract. Without that building block we would never have jumped to the next level,” Djurwa director Sean Wilson said.

“The project’s social inclusion and Aboriginal engagement framework was crucial to our success in winning other contracts, building capacity to purchase more trucks and bins, and to offer employment pathways for Indigenous Australians.”

As well as providing waste management and recycling services, the profit-for-purpose business delivers training pathways and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through joint venture partners BINGO Industries and Aboriginal owned-and-operated Yalagan.

CEO Nathan Martin said the name Djurwa (pronounced Jurwa) - which means “to grow” in Dharawal language - was chosen for its association with rejuvenation and bringing country back to life after a cultural burn.

“For us it’s about rejuvenation - rejuvenating communities by investing in people and country by improving recycling and environmental outcomes for future generations, and rejuvenating lives by providing job pathways and opportunities for Indigenous communities, including ex-offenders who often struggle to find work,” Nathan said.

“You can’t be what you can’t see. We want others to see us as business leaders, cultural leaders, national leaders, so the next generations can aim even higher,” Nathan said.

“We want to create a pathway that is more than entry level positions. We want to show that you can own your own business, you can own your own home, you can create a future for others and look after community and culture while doing it.”

October is Indigenous Business Month, with this year’s theme calling for communities and Indigenous businesses “To Gather, Together”.

Nathan said such initiatives offered valuable opportunities for Indigenous businesses to connect and share experiences.

“It’s great to have a month like this to focus on achievements to inspire future generations, but for us it’s about creating an environment for ongoing engagement, working in the community for the community, every day,” he said.

Level Crossing Removal