Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro visited Tumut on Wednesday to announce the official opening of the new Maliyan Horizon Office on Capper Street.
Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Cheryl Penrith performed the Welcome to Country in lieu of Aunty Sony Piper, Wiradjuri Elder and Chairperson of the Brungle/Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council, who unfortunately could not attend.
The opening was also attended by Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke, Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr, Snowy Valleys Mayor James Hayes and representatives from other local contractors.
Mr Barilaro said Maliyan Horizon is among 24 Aboriginal owned and operated businesses working with the NSW Government and Laing O’Rourke to clean up buildings in bushfire impacted communities. At present, 15 per cent of the clean-up workforce identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“Our aim has always been to employ local contractors where possible and it’s fantastic to see such a high proportion of Aboriginal businesses and qualified subcontractors directly benefiting from the work available through the clean-up,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I know the communities in which many of these businesses are based. They are among some of the hardest hit and the appointment of Aboriginal businesses along with other qualified local contractors and subcontractors is vital in getting these towns back on their feet.”
Maliyan Horizon currently has over 115 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal personnel working on bushfire clean-up, including a site near Tumbarumba where the Deputy Premier witnessed a smoking ceremony, traditionally a cultural cleansing ceremony and a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
Managing Director of Maliyan Horizon Emma Muller said the organisation is grateful to work with local communities and clients to uphold principles of excellence while implementing positive change for the local region.
“We are committed to providing opportunities and experiences for our employees and potential jobseekers to leverage training and up-skilling programs across the Snowy Valleys region,” Ms Muller said.
“This is an important step for Maliyan Horizon, as our mission to break habits and create change now has the opportunity to impact more individuals, and our local communities.”
Mr Barilaro said that whilst Maliyan Horizon have been a big part of the bushfire recovery effort, their work as a civil contractor is also about setting up the local economy for the future beyond this recovery period.
“We know fires have impacted on one industry and that is our timber industry in this region, so we’ve got to look forward to the future and about what are those other industries that could fill the gaps,” he said.
“What Maliyan Horizon does… is not only capturing the opportunity through the bushfire recovery and the clean up, but they’re setting themselves up for engaging and embracing opportunities with Snowy 2.0, so this means local jobs for the future.”
Dr McGirr added to these sentiments, saying that “thinking differently is key [and an] important part of our future,” and that is what Maliyan Horizon is doing.”