Carving out employment futures for Aboriginal ex-prisoners in the resource sector
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The resource sector in northern Western Australia draws its workforce from local purpose-built towns (drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) workers) and metropolitan areas (fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) workers). However, each of these arrangements has a downside. Mining towns are costly to build and maintain. Staff turnover is high. FIFO lifestyles adopted by city-based tradesmen seeking high incomes can lead to social dysfunction. Hence, the question: is there a viable alternative in these regional and remote areas for local communities to provide workers and ancillary support for the resource sector? For example most of the inland mines in Western Australia are located near or within Aboriginal communities. Returning to these communities are ex-prisoners who have had the opportunity to gain trade skills while in metropolitan prisons. This article considers whether Aboriginal ex-prisoners might be gainfully employed in the resource sector in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia.