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Clontarf: a working partnership


From left: Trudi Chesterton, Blackwoods Western Australian State Supply Chain Manager; Clontarf student Jermaine Bropho; Clontarf General Manager Employment Marcus Harold; and Clontarf student Cedric Cuttabutt.

Wesfarmers has been a long-term partner of Clontarf Foundation, which exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so, equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.

While Wesfarmers has provided ongoing and increasing financial support to the Foundation since 2001, more recently the engagement and in-kind support from a number of Wesfarmers businesses has significantly scaled up.

Blackwoods Western Australian State Supply Chain Manager, Trudi Chesterton, realised the value and opportunity in connecting with the local Clontarf Academies to attract potential team members.

“Clontarf provide their students with really great support,” said Trudi, “and it’s a great network for us to tap into.”

In March 2017, Trudi hosted a group of Clontarf students on a tour of the Blackwoods warehouse facility in Canning Vale, Western Australia. From this tour, two students from the local Sevenoaks Academy, Jermaine Bropho and Cedric Cuttabutt applied for school-based traineeships at the warehouse. They went through an interview process and were successful in securing the two positions available.

After a couple of months in the role, Jermaine and Cedric are now familiar faces on the team, and are undertaking a Certificate II in Warehousing. Both enjoy the challenge of the working environment, and the friendly support of their co-workers.

In addition to this program in Western Australia, two more Clontarf students have also started school-based traineeships with Blackwoods in its Sydney office in supply chain and in customer service, and other stores are now facilitating work experience and workplace visits for their local Academies. As well as offering these traineeships, Blackwoods also has a number of Clontarf alumni employed across its business, from as far afield as Melbourne, Victoria, to Darwin, Northern Territory. With an increased focus on diversity in the workplace, other businesses in Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety division are looking to replicate this success in coming years.

Blackwoods isn’t the only business within the Wesfarmers Group connecting with Clontarf students. Bunnings already have a number of Clontarf alumni now working as team members, and also provide students with part-time work and work experience. Coles also provides work placement opportunities, and both Kmart and Target have employed Clontarf students and alumni in full-time, part-time and casual roles.

One of the measures of success for Clontarf Foundation is the extent to which students graduating from the program either find jobs and keep them, or continue in further education. As a major partner and Australia’s largest private sector employer, Wesfarmers recognises the value in connecting and facilitating employment opportunities for students, as well as the benefits for our businesses.