AUSTRALIAN-FUNDED GENDER AND DISABILITY WORKSHOP FOR INFRASTRUCTURE INDUSTRY
Australia’s SBD1.65billion infrastructure partnership with Solomon Islands has delivered its third industry training to support local industry winning more work and delivering better quality infrastructure.
Last week local construction companies developed Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) policies for their workplaces – with the message that the inclusion of women and people with disabilities in infrastructure, was both fair and good for business. Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program (SIIP) Deputy Team Leader Johanne Bawden emphasised the importance of having formal GEDSI policies in place.
“Put simply, a GEDSI Policy will make your business more competitive when tendering for SIIP contracts. That’s because all SIIP-supported projects are inclusive and responsive to the needs of women, men, youth, persons with disabilities and marginalised groups. “Infrastructure is expensive and long-lasting. So it makes sense that it is available for all in the community and not just some. Inclusion is therefore critical for Solomon Islands to maximise the impact of SIIP’s nation-building program and achieving economic growth and development for all.”
R.S.F Construction Company Director Mele Noda expressed appreciation for the workshop, stating it is high time local contractors recognise the important contributions women make in the infrastructure space. “Our company does not have a GEDSI policy, like most local contractors, and this has made us hesitant as it disqualifies us to apply for contracts with SIIP and other Australian Government projects. This training is a timely opportunity for my company to seriously think about including women, girls and people with disability and I look forward to working closely with the SIIP GEDSI team to meet this important requirement,” said Mrs Noda.
SIIP’s Workforce Skill Series is a regular program of professional development training for local companies building the capacity of industry and creating employment opportunities. More than 175 members of the local infrastructure sector have attended workshops to date.
Malcom Lake of MM Construction expressed appreciation for the industry-focused training. “I currently employ a few people living with disability, but do not have a formal policy in place, so this workshop shows me what I need to do to achieve this. This workshop highlights the importance of including a GEDSI policy in my company, and including people with disabilities in construction,“ said Mr Lake.
Following the workshop, SIIP’s GEDSI team will be assisting participants to finalise their GEDSI policies.
SIIP will continue to deliver its Workforce Skills series training for the local construction industry. Upcoming workshops are planned on local content (27 April) and occupational health and safety (17-18 May). Traffic management and safeguards trainings are planned for later in the year.