Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are increasingly switching to a successful career in the construction industry.

Though a recent Census survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the construction industry was the third highest industry employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, only 10 percent of this group were women. 

However, Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES), Australia’s largest recruitment service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders sees this as an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to enter the traditionally male-dominated industry, and is leading the way in changing this narrative through their training programs.

Of the 100+ Aboriginal women trained by the AES over the last 12 months for employment in the construction industry through their intensive pre-employment programs such as iCivil, iTradie and iTraffic, 75 have secured full-time careers in the industry, while another 20 have secured casual employment on major project sites around Sydney.

The success of the AES training program is best illustrated by the Wiradjuri sisters – Tara Proberts-Roberts and Tarni Proberts-Roberts– who switched from full-time positions in the childcare industry to take a leap into the construction industry.

Proberts-Roberts was 28 years old when she decided to change her career direction, having realised that she had reached her limit with childcare and need to do something to challenge herself and learn new things. Her sister, Tarni followed in her footsteps, enrolling in the iTradie program through AES when she was 25 years old. She was also looking for a change in career, challenge herself, and grow new skills.

Proberts-Roberts graduated with a Trainee of the Year nomination in her region and state. She also received the Trainee of the Year runner-up for the country. After completing a Certificate 3 in Civil Construction, she is now a Dogger (directing and advising Crane Operators) and Labourer working on the new M5 in St Peters, Sydney.

AES CEO Kristy Masella, who has dedicated her life to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, describes the Wiradjuri sisters as pioneers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, paving the way for future generations to come.

Observing that the sisters are exceptional role models for women, she adds that the organisation plans to break into other male-dominated industries, and carve out new career opportunities for women.