Seven Indigenous women have swapped their life in the Sydney suburbs for a life on the sea, training as deckhands for the NRMA My Fast Ferry fleet.
The MAX customers, who all hail from western Sydney, make the daily commute to Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and Ultimo TAFE to train under the watchful eye of skipper, “Seaweed”.
Once qualified, they will spend the next five months working across the fleet’s ferries or water taxis, transporting thousands of tourists and locals around Sydney each day.
MAX Solutions’ Indigenous Mentor, Lance Edwards said the traineeships came about as a result of a strong partnership with Babana Aboriginal and offered real hope and opportunity to some of the city’s most disadvantaged workers.
“I met the seven women through MAX’s partnership with Babana Aboriginal, which does great work in inner Sydney to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the right job opportunity,” Mr Edwards said.
“When I met and talked with them, some of them told me about the fears they had concerning their job prospects and futures.
“They were all thrilled to be offered these traineeships – we all celebrated together!”
The women will be taught a range of onboard duties such as: survival at sea, nautical terminology, working as part of a crew and safety management skills.
“Since everything on a boat is a potential missile, cleanliness and tidiness on board is very important,” Mr Edwards said. “They will spend several days on the deck of commercial vessels doing practical training and assessments, including water rescue and survival training at the Qantas Jet Base training facility.
“This includes ‘pindropping’ off the side of a pontoon fully-clothed, putting on life vests while in the water and lifting yourself out into a life raft,to simulate a real-life emergency.
“Fire training is also carried out at TAFE NSW at Nirimba.
“This will give them the confidence to ensure they can cope with some of the most common things that can go wrong at sea.”
After the two weeks of training, the group of customers start paid work, and that’s when they must keep log books and complete 900 hours at sea.
“The company’s course is very thorough, and if they pass, the customers will have the required theory and practical training to pass the Master Less Than 24 Metres Near Coast – Certificate III in Maritime Operations,” Mr Edwards said.
Once they receive their Certificate of Competency from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the women will be qualified general-purpose deckhands, which offers them all sorts of exciting career options.
“In the future, they can opt to do further training to become deckhands on cruise ships, work for the port authority or even become skippers,” Mr Edwards added.