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Partners on Country: Harnessing talent and building careers.

Each year the third Thursday in March (17th of March, 2022) marks National Close the Gap Day. A day that aims to reduce the widening gap of life expectancy and health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

We’re acknowledging the significance of National Close The Gap Day with the positive work underway by Partners on Country. A 50% Indigenous-owned joint venture between leading Indigenous employment firm, On Country Workforce Solutions, and our AWX, one of largest blue collar workforce agencies.

General Manager of Partners On Country, Luke McFadzean explains the partnership was created to facilitate and provide Indigenous employment opportunities, and in its 12 months of existence ‘has opened doors which traditionally we wouldn’t be able to open.’

Working alongside Kelvin Dunrobin, Director of Indigenous Participation, and Jason Pfingst, Director of Indigenous Business Development, the team are working with a large range of clients spanning government to rural agriculture.

The focus

A focus of Partners On Country has been connecting with locals, with Dunrobin playing a pivotal role as an Indigenous leader in North Queensland. This connection to the local community has paid dividends when projects with major clients need labour.

McFadzean says that having local workers available helps to secure contracts and was a strategic advantage for a recent large contract. ‘It’s up in Shoal Water bay in North Queensland. We secured the Indigenous labour-hire contract on that project, that’s through a combination of us being the local business there; our join venture partners are based out of Rockhampton.’

Workers on projects are not limited to the life-cycle of the project either. Partnering with registered training organisations (RTOs) and putting workers through training, McFadzean explains, has 'given them [Indigenous candidates] tickets that they can take with them post-project to future projects that they can work on.’

Meaningful work

While the project in North Queensland has been one of the larger projects to date in terms of scale and scope, McFadzean says one of the most meaningful is an agricultural project providing labour for a cattle station owned by an Indigenous Community in North Queensland.

"Standard labour-hire would not have the opportunity to work with a company like that, but with our Indigenous Partners on Country, we were able to partner up with those guys. We’re running anything from 10-15 workers out on that station, and that’s a nice partnership because you get to bring the young lads through and provide them with the opportunity to get involved in the work routine and meaningful employment."

Success stories

With age ranging from 17-year-olds in their first job through to 40-year-olds, the cattle station project has already birthed a success story with one young worker starting his own business and contracting back to the company.

‘It is very rewarding for those guys that get that opportunity to change things for themselves.’ McFadzean says that ultimately, it comes down to ensuring that ‘our workers always feel valued and respected.’

"At the end of the day, everyone deserves an opportunity." - Luke McFadzean

Following such a successful first year, the team is primed to continue strengthening local communities with employment opportunities throughout 2022. Find out more about Partners On Country by visiting

On a large project site outdoors, 7 people stand in a row, some smiling some not. 3 people sit in the foreground. 6 of the people are dressed for an Indigenous Smoking ceremony with face and bodies painted, holding objects for the ceremony. The other four wear buttoned shirts and work pants.
Smoking ceremony at a Partners on Country project site


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