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Two new cohorts commence Koomba Birdal program  

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

2 May 2023

Our Midland campus has been abuzz with excitement with two new instalments of the Koomba Birdal (Big Spark) Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students commencing last month.  

The new groups of students were eager to commence the free 20-week programs in either the Conservation and Eco System Management (Caring for Country) course or a Mechanical Fitting pre-apprenticeship program. 

The Koomba Birdal Program, which commenced last year, is a free supported training pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and is designed to inspire them to pursue further study and gain employment.  

Students are supported throughout their training by our Koolark Centre for Aboriginal Students(opens in a new tab) and our Jobs and Skills Centre(opens in a new tab) ’s Enhanced Aboriginal Engagement Team, who provide mentoring, study support and career guidance services. 

In the new Caring for Country Program, students will attain a Certificate II in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, gaining practical skills and knowledge including weed management, native revegetation, horticulture and landscaping. 

During their studies, students will also get the opportunity to volunteer at various local governments and private businesses in their horticulture teams. 
The Mechanical Fitting Program acts as a Pre-Apprenticeship for Mechanical Fitting and Machining. Students will gain hands-on experience in a workplace during a four-week placement as part of the Certificate II.  

The study also provides them with the ability to understand engineering drawings, operate lathes and milling and drilling machines, make and assemble components and understand work health and safety requirements. 

As part of the courses students also receive training in first aid, health and well-being and managing money. 
Caring for Country Program student Travis Maher was inspired to enrol in the course after his Grandma had recently been given her land back up north in Nanda Country.  

“As a job it would be great to be a ranger up north; it would be a good chance to explore my country, which I haven’t been able to do much before, and look after and maintain the land,” he said. 

He said he had been to his Grandma’s land a few times and was interested in learning about weed management and maintaining a healthy ecosystem so he could also use the skills there. 

Willis Jenkins, who is undertaking the Mechanical Fitting Program said he was excited to complete the program and looked forward to the opportunities it would provide in Automotive. 

Collia Bunbamurra, who travelled from Kalumburu to undertake the Mechanical Fitting Program said he came to TAFE as he had an interest in building things. 

“I wanted to get experience in the industry and want to build boats in the future,” he said. 

Jobs and Skills Centre staff member Dylan Nelson said the programs were a great opportunity for the students to get a taste of the industry and a fantastic platform to launch their career or complete further study. 

The new programs are supported by Perth Airport, who provided funding for PPE and Iron Merge who have provided pants to all three Koomba Birdal programs. 

Last year 13 students undertook the inaugural Koomba Birdal Program, completing a Certificate II in Engineering (Heavy Fabrication Pre-Apprenticeship(opens in a new tab) ). 

Following the program, students have gone on to land apprenticeships across Perth with one such student Oliver Dhu beginning an apprenticeship with Lighthouse Engineering earlier this year. 

The program was supported by Certus Group, Perth Airport, Australian Steel Institute, Tool Kit Depot and Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union. 

The Koomba Birdal Program will commence a Plumbing Program later this year. To register your interest for future programs please see the program flyer(opens in a new tab)  or visit the Koolark Centre webpage(opens in a new tab) .

Image 1: The Koomba Birdal Conservation and Eco System Management (Caring for Country) student cohort.

Image 2: The Koomba Birdal Mechanical Fitting student cohort.