Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group have partnered to raise social awareness about sexual harassment, bullying and racism in the mining industry.
Together, the three companies will fund and contribute to the design, build and implementation of innovative, industry first learning programs for deployment through a range of education providers such as TAFE, registered training organisations (RTOs), universities and high schools.
The major miners have collaborated by inviting leading experts in social wellbeing to form part of a working group that will bring together government, community, industry and educators across TAFE, RTOs, universities and high schools in Western Australia to design and implement the program.
“There is no place for harassment and bullying of any kind in the mining sector or in any workplace, and we will continue to work with industry partners to take decisive action to ensure our workplaces are safe for everyone,” Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said.
The industry can make an important contribution to raise awareness of social wellbeing and related behaviours (referred to as “psychosocial harm” collectively) by starting conversations on these vital topics through education providers for the benefit of all Western Australians.
According to Rio Tinto’s chief executive Simon Trott, the partnership with BHP and Fortescue is expected to “help build a safer workplace and help empower our future workforce to create the culture we need.”
A pilot program, to be developed in 2022, will be established for TAFE students through South Metropolitan TAFE. This will form part of core learning requirements for students who may be planning to join Rio Tinto, BHP or Fortescue.
South Metropolitan TAFE will go on to share this education package through the broader WA TAFE network.
Additionally, the collaboration will explore the prospect of working with universities and high schools to encompass broader education pathways state-wide, as well as for distribution in workplaces.
In time, these packages will be made available for application across broader industries and across other parts of Australia.
The education program is one of a number of initiatives introduced by mining companies to address sexual harassment, bullying and racism in WA’s mining industry.
According to BHP WA Iron Ore asset president Brandon Craig, these programs are critical to ensuring common understanding of the behaviours that are appropriate and acceptable at the company.
The three mining companies combined with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia earlier this year to pledge support for the parliamentary inquiry into sexual misconduct against women in the FIFO mining industry and committed to work cohesively to eradicate these behaviours from the sector.