Sustainable development

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Help for the wood workers of Woorabinda

The workers of Woorabinda with one of their tables
The workers of Woorabinda with one of their tables Paul Wood, safety and sustainable development manager at Dawson mine, accepts the first table constructed by Woorie Wood from the manager, Jason Smith. Looking on are Archie Sullivan, Maurice Cameron, Steven Williams, Joel Cameron and Colin Watson

The town of Woorabinda is the nearest aboriginal community to Anglo Coal Australia's Dawson Mine. It is also, traditionally, a local centre for woodworking.

Until early 2006, however, the woodworkers of Woorabinda pursued their craft in an ad hoc way. That changed when Anglo Coal Australia signed an innovative 'shared responsibility agreement' with community leaders and officials of the Federal and State Governments to create a small furniture production business.

As part of that agreement, the Dawson Mine is providing support to the fledgling enterprise in several ways: project managing an extension to the start-up's woodworking shed; advising on occupational health and safety issues; and developing a business plan. While all of that was going on, the woodworkers themselves embarked on certified training courses in carpentry and furniture making.

By the end of the company's first year, it had produced a successful range of highly marketable shelves, tables and seating – and received official recognition as well. Anglo's Woorabinda project was cited in an award for Outstanding Community Benefit at the Jobs Career Future Awards at the Parliament House in Australia's capital, Canberra.