72 GSBE students completed Business Practicums throughout this winter and one of the hosts was Rio Tinto Alcan in Weipa, situated in the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Business Practicums provide our graduate students with real experience in a workplace environment, working on a challenging project within a team.
Rio Tinto has a University wide partnership and as part of this partnership they sponsored eight students and two academics -Dr. Danielle Chmielewski-Raimondo and Dr. Albie Brooks- to assist Rio Tinto-Alcan to further enhance their indigenous engagement strategy.
The students formed two groups to tackle the issues posed by the Ely Bursary scheme that forms part of the Ely Bauxite Mining Project Agreement; these issues were focussed on marketing the Ely Bursary to the six Indigenous communities covered by the Agreement, and improving the business processes for the Ely Bursary.
Dr. Danielle Chmielewski-Raimondo led a team of four students who were responsible for developing a marketing strategy for the promotion of the Ely Bursary to the eligible indigenous communities. This project required the students to develop a communications strategy culminating in the production of a DVD and a brochure. (Watch sample footage from this DVD that is currently in production here)
Dr. Albie Brooks worked with a team of four students who were required to: assess the current processes for managing the Ely Bursary, review world’s best practice in bursary/scholarship management and recommend improved management processes for the Ely Bursary including the application process, measuring outcomes from the bursary and overall governance of the bursary.
To ensure the success of the projects, the students and academics undertook cultural awareness training provided by Rio Tinto Alcan and they met and interviewed Elders of the indigenous communities. In addition, the group took the opportunity to participate in NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week celebrations which provided valuable insights into indigenous communities
The students presented their findings to the Rio Tinto Alcan and the Ely Committee at the end of the two weeks. Feedback from Rio Tinto Alcan has been excellent; they were extremely impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and quality of their work. In addition they commented on how happy they were with the work and insights that Dr. Danielle Chmielewski-Raimondo and Dr. Albie Brooks provided on the projects.
Many of the students who participated in the Business Practicum have noted that it has provided them with a great opportunity to not only enhance their academic and employability skills but to also gain a greater understanding of indigenous issues and what true corporate social responsibility looks like. They were very impressed with the manner in which Rio Tinto Alcan practises corporate social responsibility and how seriously it takes the issue, particularly in regards to traditional land owners.
Speaking to those involved from the Faculty, B&E got the real sense that this project was unique and impacted both on students and the academics involved, as Dr. Danielle Chmielewski-Raimondo outlined, ‘this was one of the most memorable, enjoyable and interesting experiences that we have all had.
Working with Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa made us all realise that for some companies, corporate social responsibility is not just a box that needs to be ticked by the company, but is a company ethos that underpins every single business decision that the company makes. Thanks to our work with Rio Tinto Alcan in Weipa and the Ely Committee, we all now have a much better understanding of the issues and difficulties Indigenous communities face and the crucial importance of Education as a means of providing Indigenous youth and communities as a whole with a future.” Dr Albie Brooks echoed these comments ‘this was a unique cultural experience that gave our students significant learning experiences’
In addition to the Rio Tinto Alcan projects GSBE students undertake Business Practicums at Melbourne Football Club, The Billings Bureau, The Phalanx Group, ANZ, Percepta and The Committee for Melbourne. For more information on practicum projects contact the Business & Economics Careers Centre