Building bridges: RES and Emerald Solar Farm’s commitment to First Nations engagement
by RES | Feb 05, 2024 | Reading time: 2 min
In the dynamic landscape of the Australian renewable energy industry, fostering meaningful relationships and engagement with First Nations communities has become a cornerstone of responsible and sustainable practices. With a resolute commitment to our Australian Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we aim to amplify the positive impact of renewable energy projects by actively involving First Nations people throughout the lifecycle of our projects.
Our vision for reconciliation is a happier, safer, more successful workplace that provides equitable and tangible benefits for the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, facilitating deeper impact from our work.
Emerald Solar Farm
Emerald Solar Farm is a 72MW project that was developed, constructed and is now managed by our team in Queensland, Australia. We recently embarked on the renewal of Emerald’s vegetation management contract, aiming to create employment opportunities for First Nations peoples on site.
Leveraging our membership with Supply Nation (a First Nations procurement company), we proactively reached out to First Nations-owned businesses, ensuring that the procurement process was not only efficient but also aligned with the Project’s and RES’ goal of creating meaningful employment opportunities and engagement with the First Nations community.
The collaboration extended to the existing O&M Contractor, Wolff Power, with RES actively working alongside them to explore avenues for First Nations engagement within the vegetation management contract. The criteria for selection were comprehensive, with a focus on existing First Nations engagement within the contractor’s workforce, including representation at upper management levels. Ultimately, Wolff Power emerged as the preferred choice, not only due to their track record of robust First Nations engagement but also their commitment to making diligent efforts to employ a local person of First Nations origin for the vegetation management scope and potentially other O&M scopes in the future.
Contractual Commitment to First Nations Engagement
The initiative initially suffered a setback, as the preferred First Nations candidate opted for a different role, accepting employment with another company within the contractual timeframes. Both parties remained steadfast in their commitment and so the requirement to actively pursue the employment of a local person of First Nations origin was embedded into the contract.
RES, in collaboration with Wolff Power, continues to explore alternative avenues for First Nations engagement. These initiatives include the potential to create electrical apprenticeships, collaboration with First Nations-owned businesses for supporting services such as vehicle and machinery servicing, and the prospect of engaging a First Nations expert in the future to provide valuable insights into vegetation management strategies.
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Over many millennia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been exemplary in caring for the land, the sea and the environment. RES is driven by a passion to rapidly reduce the impacts of climate change and I am excited to learn about how we can achieve this even more effectively through these partnerships
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