3 December, 2022
Workers trained to identify culture sites
An innovative collaboration between Inland Rail, Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), and TAFE NSW, has led to the certification of eight newly-qualified Aboriginal site workers in Gilgandra.
The five-day accreditation program was run out of
the Gilgandra LALC office and on-site in the district.
All the participants couldn’t be happier after their
‘graduation’ last Friday, November 25.
“We have learnt so much over the past week, and
on behalf of everyone, we are so grateful to our
teacher Vic for teaching us so much,” Aunty Fran,
one of the course participants, enthused.
“There have been so many stories shared, and so
much healing that has been done. This has been a
great opportunity; I just wish it was longer,” she
The statement of attainment achieved by all the
students applies to the identification and recording of
Aboriginal sites, objects, and cultural landscapes on
Each participant was provided with the skills and
knowledge to follow protocols of Aboriginal culture,
including the need to identify the appropriate persons
when approaching a community, and gender and kinship
Acting CEO of the Gilgandra LALC, Trish Pont,
explained that the idea came out of a meeting with
Inland Rail and the LALC, and they are thrilled the
project hit the ground running.
“Inland Rail came to us, and we were having a
conversation about what we could do, all together, to
help our community, as well as helping the Inland
Rail Project,” she said.
“We’ve been trying to get a site survey course
together for a while. TAFE put this together, with
Inland Rail paying for it. This way we could get the
applicants in, trained-up, and ready to go, for when
they need them,” she added.
Land councils will now be asked to come along to do site surveys when construction or the like is happening in the area for the project. Ms Pont explained that someone is often required to determine if there’s anything on the ground, under the ground, or on the trees, that are culturally significant.
“Just because it’s not visible to the naked eye, doesn’t
mean it’s not there. We have Telstra, Essential Energy, they all
come to us for the surveys and, because we have lots of those
requests, we tend to use the same people. But this time round,
we’ve got a nice wide range of people to choose from!”
Ms Pont explained that within the Aboriginal community,
there are certain things that are ‘women’s business’ and
“So, we send two, male and female, to site checks, and they
can be on-site together and deal with whatever needs to be
dealt with out of respect.”
Most participants in the course are members of the land
council, but all are part of Gilgandra’s Aboriginal community.
Jasmine, the “quiet achiever” of the group, said that the course
for her, is a new beginning.
“I can see that this course has
taken me forward,” she said. “It’s a new beginning, and I’m
glad that I’ve finished it.
“I’m so proud of everyone; I can’t wait to see what’s next
and where this takes me.”
A spokesperson from Australian Rail Track Corporation
(ARTC) Inland Rail, said they will continue working in partnership
“ARTC Inland Rail values our relationships with First
Nations communities and recognises their inherent connection
to their traditional lands and their continuing responsibility of
stewardship and caring for country and culture.”
Next on the agenda for a training session is a drone-use course, which the potiental students are looking forward to.