Operation Outback

Date: 7-Jun-2017

Clinton Luckett hails from an area of Australia where Indigenous culture still thrives. His role as Operations Supervisor at Kalari brings together his heritage and professional skills. Clinton talked to Swire News recently about his career, and how Kalari enables him to give back to the community:

 When did you join Kalari and what satisfaction does it give you?
I joined Kalari in November 2015, and since then I have been involved with growing the business in Port Hedland, which is a logistics hub on the north coast of Western Australia. My background is in mining – iron ore, gold and coal – based mainly on mine sites where I worked with 1,000-tonne diggers and trucks carrying 350 tonnes of material. My current role centres on haulage logistics – specifically road trains transporting raw material from mines around the region to Port Hedland, often over huge distances. I enjoy implementing logistical strategies, such as maintaining clear lines of communication with drivers on the road in case I need to resolve an issue 500 kilometres away, for example. It is a welcome challenge.
Describe your typical week at work and some of the challenges it brings.
A typical working week for me involves a whole range of activities; from managing people, ensuring drivers adhere to guidelines and allocating machines, to inspecting workplaces, helping new-starts find their feet and arranging drivers’ rosters. One of the biggest challenges is the heat, which can easily reach over 40°C. This tends to push equipment to its limit and affect road conditions. Therefore, it is critical our workshop has equipment available and is on call, in case they need to attend a road train breakdown.
What are Port Hedland’s logistical advantages?
Port Hedland is the central hub of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It has a natural deepanchorage harbour, which is the main container receiving point for the region. It is one of the largest iron ore loading ports in Australia, with 633.5 million tonnes of raw material being shipped out every year. Because of this, there are plenty of opportunities for those willing to work hard and set themselves up for the future.
As well as its vast deposits of minerals, Pilbara is renowned for its Indigenous heritage. Can you explain more about this?
The heritage, the language, the culture – it’s alive and well in Pilbara. In fact, there are around 30 distinct Aboriginal languages in the area. Port Hedland’s Aboriginal name, Marrapikurrinya, meaning “place of good water”, describes what made it such an important site for local people. Further afield, the Burrup Peninsula has thousands of spectacular ancient rock carvings, and the untouched coastline offers plentiful fishing and what we call “bush tucker” – wild food central to indigenous people’s culture. There are also spectacular panoramic views of the landscape to be savoured. Personally, I enjoy going on bushwalks into the middle of nowhere. It’s not a bad place to get out and be with nature.
As an Aboriginal Australian, how do you celebrate your Indigenous culture?
For me, the very act of celebrating Indigenous culture is so important, because this is how our stories, beliefs, artwork, music and languages have been passed on for thousands of years. For my part, I’ve been fortunate enough to play the yidaki – also known as the didgeridoo – in a variety of international settings. The instrument is made from a hollowed-out trunk of the eucalyptus tree, and its distinctive sound is produced with the lips and a special technique called circular breathing. Different rhythms and accompanying dances tell a variety of stories. Where I’m from in Arnhem Land, in Northern Territory, these stories are handed down from generation to generation this way, so you could say the didgeridoo is like a university that teaches our culture.
How does your role with Kalari help you give back to your community?
Working for a company that recognises and respects Indigenous culture is a great motivator, which is the reason I joined. Kalari always seeks to employ local residents, especially women and Indigenous people. This is why our reputation is held in high regard within the community, and I believe Kalari can greatly improve the lives of local Indigenous people by providing opportunities for training and employment. I personally drive the Indigenous employment strategy at our base in Port Hedland. Since I started with the company, we have employed seven Indigenous drivers, and two more as contractors. There’s still more to do but we are definitely growing in that space, which is wonderful to see and be a part of.

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