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Sydney’s new airport inspiring First Nations students to dream big

10 June 2022

Young First Nations Australians are being inspired to follow their career dreams and perhaps one day work at Sydney’s new airport thanks to a new collaboration between Western Sydney Airport and the National Rugby League (NRL).

First Nations students from the NRL Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit visited the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport construction site during National Reconciliation Week to learn about the job opportunities that will be available at the airport and hear from First Nations workers on the project about their career journeys.

Western Sydney Airport (WSA) First Nations Engagement Manager Peter Jensen said it was important to plant the seeds for young First Nations students to dream big as they embark on their own careers. 

Since construction began, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers have accounted for an average of three per cent of the WSA team, exceeding the project’s target of 2.4 per cent.

“You can’t be what you can’t see - this initiative is about inspiring and empowering students to dream big,” Mr Jensen said.

“Western Sydney is home to one of Australia’s largest First Nations populations and we are committed to ensuring that Western Sydney International makes a meaningful difference in the lives of First Nations people, providing jobs and economic opportunities now and into the future once the airport is operational.”

To mark National Reconciliation Week and the recent launch of WSA’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), WSA has installed a 500-metre geoglyph alongside the airport’s runway that can be seen by air. 

“This art installation will feature the same white kangaroo tracks that feature in our RAP artwork created by proud Kamilaroi woman Rhonda Sampson,” Mr Jensen said.

“These kangaroo feet move both forwards and backwards, representing the need for all Australians to acknowledge the past and our shared history in order to understand First Nations people and cultures and forge a future together.”

Mr Jensen said First Nations people are being consulted throughout the design process of the airport’s passenger terminal to ensure Australia’s new global gateway reflects and respects the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage.

“From 2026, Western Sydney International will welcome millions of visitors from across Australia and the world and we want the airport to celebrate more than 60,000 years of First Nations’ culture with every one of them,” Mr Jensen said. 

Senior Manager of Indigenous Strategy at the NRL Shaun Humphries said the initiative was about encouraging students to consider their own career pathways. 

“Collaborating with Western Sydney Airport to provide young Indigenous leaders with exposure to the careers of the future is worth celebrating,” Mr Humphries said.

“Opportunities like this really do plant the seeds of influence for our young people to one day picture themselves working on a project like Western Sydney Airport and shaping a shared journey of reconciliation and empowerment.”

Images available for download here.

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