First Nations-led pilot program promotes digital inclusion
Located at the TAFE Queensland Nurunderi campus on Wakka Wakka Country, the Cherbourg First Nations Service Centre is shaping the future of economic development in Queensland’s First Nations communities. Now in its second year of operation, the call centre continues to train and employ people from the Cherbourg community to perform digital tasks at the call centre.
Working with the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council and the community, Queensland Department of Innovation, Tourism and Sport and TAFE Queensland, tech-giant Fujitsu became the first client of the Cherbourg First Nations Service Centre in 2022. The Service Centre is part of a three-year pilot program designed to boost the economic development of Queensland First Nations communities through digital skills training and employment opportunities.
Staff receive on-the-job training while achieving a Certificate III in Business (BSB30120) qualification.
In a bid to boost employment and economy, Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council began working with Deadly Innovations, an initiative of the Queensland Government, to improve local infrastructure and jobs.
Now, Cherbourg has a fully operational First Nations Service Centre. As the first client, tech-giant Fujitsu subcontracts to the Services Centre, employing locals as service desk representatives.
Already the Services Centre’s client base has grown, with services now also provided to the Queensland Government’s Department of Digital Economies Smart Services Queensland and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council teamed up with TAFE Queensland and the Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development to provide training and create jobs in the community at the first call centre in a First Nations Community in Australia.
Those engaged in the program are employed by Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, undertake job readiness training and gain a Certificate III in Business qualification. The aim is to build independence for Indigenous Queenslanders, digital literacy skills and create real jobs on Country.
The Cherbourg Digital Service Centre is operating from TAFE Queensland’s Nurunderi campus.
Now in its second year of operation, the Cherbourg service centre has grown from eight employees to 30 who provide IT support, including password reset jobs, for people living in regional and rural Queensland, especially Indigenous people living in remote areas.
As the foundation customer, Fujitsu encourages other corporates who are looking to create meaningful social impact and drive digital inclusion to consider the First Nations Service Centre.
Nicole Forrester, Head of Office of Purpose, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand, said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including those in Cherbourg, have continued to demonstrate unmatched strength and resilience, and it’s time this value is recognised by corporate Australia. We’re immensely proud to collaborate with the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council and community to support them as they take hold of their future and leverage the industry-wide digital transformation brought on by COVID-19.”
“As a place-based inclusion model, this pilot maps a new way forward for how corporate Australia and government can work in collaboration with First Nations communities to develop capability building initiatives, work towards reconciliation and create social impact through digital inclusion. We’re excited to offer this service to our customers and work with all parties to ensure the pilot model becomes a competitive and permanent offering in the service centre market.”
The service centre is now a fully community-owned and operated enterprise, with revenue reinvested for the benefit of the enterprise and the community.
The program was awarded Highly Commended at both the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Excellence and the 2023 Queensland Reconciliation Awards | Partnerships.
As staff get more training, the centre will take on more complex IT jobs for Fujitsu and assist them with banking, insurance and government services.
Now in its second year of operation, the centre has already more than doubled in employees with capacity for further growth, which includes expanded services on behalf of the Queensland Government (Department of Digital Economies Smart Services Queensland and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), and new centres at Palm Island and Jumbun, with Telstra as the foundation client.