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Karina Lynch says this year’s powerful delegation of Indigenous and First Nations leaders will make vital contributions to IMARC 2024 discussions about the future of mining industry community and workforce engagement.

The delegation includes a large contingent from Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia (IWIMRA), where Lynch is a director.

IMARC’s partnership with IWIMRA, started in 2019, created a platform for broader Indigenous participation in Australia’s major annual mining event and this year more than a dozen First Nations business leaders will be involved in discussions about skills and training, workforce attraction and retention people, the growth of First Nations enterprises, and regional prosperity markers.

At the first IWIMRA conference in Perth last year, delegates canvassed “what good looks like to us” in these and other social and economic areas.

Lynch, principal asset improvement with mining major BHP in Queensland, says the IMARC platform and calibre of participants can help elevate these discussions.

“It certainly is a progression from last year which we are so excited about,” she said.

“It’s fantastic to be able to see new IWIMRA members be involved and share their lived experiences.

“I think good is looking better as more and more of the industry embraces a more sustainable and open-minded approach to their Indigenous workforce.

“Gone are the days when people worked at a company and never ever entertained the idea of moving to a competitor.

“These days we are seeing people moving around a lot more and employment conditions and workplace culture are huge drivers of that.

“It’s not just about pay anymore. That’s a short-term gain but becoming the employer of choice for Indigenous people is about creating an environment that encourages people to grow to feel culturally safe and where there are development processes in play.

“It’s a different standard.

“We have a really wide spread of skillsets within our delegation, all of which round out the conversation about what attracts Indigenous employees.

“And our IWIMRA women’s voice is direct from the front line.

“It’s a voice that often isn’t heard at the management levels that are responsible for change and culture.”

Indigenous Business Australia executive director Kia Dowell, Ernst & Young national First Nations talent acquisition manager Christina Coleman, Aboriginal Enterprises in Mining, Energy & Exploration (AEMEE) chair Derek Flucker, AEMEE CEO Jyi Lawton and Balanggarra Ventures general manager Trisha Birch are among Indigenous leaders on the 2024 IMARC rostrum.

They will be joined by IWIMRA’s Shontell Ketchell, Leah Cummins, Taleasha Emerick and Trudi Yow Yeh.

Geologist and celebrated artist Cummins, who runs Bunya Designs, is creating new IMARC-IWIMRA Indigenous art that speaks to the relationship between First Nations communities and the minerals and resources sector.

Lynch says the art will also signify this year’s collaboration and engagement theme at IMARC, and IWIMRA’s exhibit area.

“The collaborative painting will be displayed throughout the event and Leah Cummins’ artwork will be shared on all socials as the Indigenous artwork for IMARC,” she says.

“We are so proud of Leah and all she’s achieved. She is an integral member of our IWIMRA team. 

“We will be having a more interactive stand this year with collaborative painting as well as areas for direct interaction with our team.

“We also will be doing yarning circles throughout the event in our area which is something we want everyone involved in.”