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Western Sydney Airport will kick goals on inclusiveness

Smoking ceremony at the start of construction at Western Sydney Airport last year.

Aboriginal engagement plan and partnership with wheelchair athletes

Construction will start soon and it won’t open until 2026, but Western Sydney Airport is already flying high in its engagement with Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities.

One of two major initiatives announced last week is the Western Sydney Airport Aboriginal Engagement Plan – the first of its kind for a major Australian Government infrastructure project.

The second is partnering with the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League (NSWWRL) to ensure an accessible airport for all travellers.

WSA Co will sponsor the NSWWRL 2019 competition and will work with players to gain insights into how airports should be designed.

WSA Co chief executive officer Graham Millett said NSWWRL players would provide invaluable advice on accessibility considerations for the design of the airport given the extensive travel they have done as a team.

“I’m pleased to have NSW Wheelchair Rugby League players on board, sharing with us their experiences with accessibility and mobility at airports around the world,” Mr Millett said.

“They will be a key reference group for the airport’s design team during these early stages of planning to ensure we optimise accessibility for travellers of all abilities.’’

NSWWRL chairman Edie George said he was pleased Western Sydney Airport would be supporting the NSWWRL 2019 competition and working with players on the design of the airport.

 “It’s important that all infrastructure projects and all organisations keep these important considerations front and centre so people of all abilities can not only use these facilities but enjoy them and have great experiences,’’ he said.

The ground breaking Aboriginal Engagement Plan will drive Aboriginal engagement opportunities in business, education and employment and help shape the airport’s scope and operation.

Aboriginal firm Enable has been announced as the provider of the Western Sydney Airport Aboriginal Engagement Plan.

Enable is headed by AFL legend and former Sydney Swan star Michael O’Loughlin.

Federal urban infrastructure minister Alan Tudge said Western Sydney Airport was setting a new standard for engagement with Aboriginal communities.

 “Michael O’Loughlin and his team will ensure that Aboriginal people get maximum opportunities out of the massive investment in Western Sydney,” he said.

 “The new airport will generate tens of thousands of jobs and we want Aboriginal people to be part of it.”

 As part of Western Sydney Airport’s employment targets, Indigenous workers will make up at least 2.4 per cent of the total workforce on the construction of the airport.

 A minimum of three percent of all contracts during the construction of the airport will be with Indigenous firms.

Enable will be tasked with coordinating Aboriginal engagement across the business and the community, from cultural heritage to employment, education and training.

“Western Sydney Airport has embarked on an ambitious plan and we are excited to be part of the journey,” Michael O’Loughlin said.

“By developing a broad reaching, highly inclusive Aboriginal Engagement Plan, Western Sydney Airport will raise the bar on all future engagements of this type, setting the standard for how Aboriginal Australians are engaged.

“We will work with local Aboriginal communities and stakeholders to inform the Engagement Plan and the local Darug people will obviously play a big part in our program as well as other Aboriginal stakeholders, local communities and our partners at Western Sydney Airport.”

Greater Western Sydney has the highest concentration of Aboriginal people of any single region in Australia. According to the 2016 Census, of the more than 1,024,000 people living in the council areas that form the Western Parkland City, approximately 26,000 identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

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