One of Melbourne’s largest Indigenous construction employers has left its mark on the Level Crossing Removal Project at Manchester Road, Mooroolbark.
Spotswood construction firm Wamarra provides sustainable, permanent employment to Indigenous Australians and through the LXRP’s social procurement policies has been involved with several projects since it first started operating.
The company has grown over 2 years to include more than 45 Indigenous employees now working on some of the biggest infrastructure projects in Melbourne.
Wamarra Managing Director and proud Wiradjuri man, Hayden Heta said he first started the company because he noticed gaps in employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the construction sector.
'I was coaching an Indigenous footy side, the Fitzroy Stars, and I realised a large number of young, Indigenous men associated with the football club were trying to get their foot in the door in construction.' he said.
'That inspired me and gave me the drive to start Wamarra, because the perception was every Aboriginal person has access to jobs, but at a community level those jobs were actually hard to access.'
Working with the Level Crossing Removal Project helped Wamarra quickly build into an employer that has worked on more than 31 government and private projects since early 2020.
What started with building awnings, access roads and other establishment works on the Cranbourne Line Upgrade, soon expanded to a myriad of sites, including the Cherry Street, Werribee Street, and Old Geelong Road level crossing removal projects.
Big build underway at Mooroolbark and Lilydale
Wamarra continued to grow when the company also took on landscaping work, leading to contracts at the Clyde Road level crossing removal – which included planting 20,000 trees, plants and shrubs – the Cardinia Road car park and the Chelsea Station precinct works.
The company was then awarded its biggest construction contract to date – $4.8 million to deliver work on the Manchester Road level crossing removal, kicking off work earlier this year.
This included constructing new pedestrian and shared use pathways, installing new furniture and features for activity spaces and public amenities around Mooroolbark Station, and planting thousands, shrubs and plants around the project site.
LXRP Program Director Steve Brown said it was important to ensure level crossing removal projects increased employment opportunities for all Victorians.
'Our mission is to bring communities together, not just by removing dangerous and congested level crossings, but providing ongoing employment for the many thousands of workers in Victoria’s construction industry,' Mr Brown said.
As part of the Victoria’s Big Build program, Level Crossing Removal Project has provided thousands of construction jobs to a diverse range of Victorians, with social inclusion requirements ensuring the benefits also flow to areas of the community that are underrepresented in the industry.
The Level Crossing Removal Project is getting rid of 85 level crossings by 2025, with 64 already gone for good.