Increasing employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians

During the delivery of the Echuca Moama Bridge Project, our team took every opportunity to support local First Peoples' businesses and increase employment opportunities for First Nations people.

The project works were in an environmentally complex area of Echuca and Moama, which included the Murray River and sensitive Aboriginal sites, such as the Sandhill, a significant area of cultural heritage featuring a remnant section of sub-surface stone artefact deposits. This area is also of considerable scientific value and the project team worked in close collaboration with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation to ensure respect for the land and its fragile ecology.  

Through the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation relationship, AKO Earth was endorsed by the Elders to work on some of the project’s most culturally sacred sites. Supported by the project team, AKO Earth's business grew from sole trader status to that of an experienced subcontracting company, employing eight people at peak times during the project.  

McConnell Dowell assisted AKO Earth in completing the qualification process so that they are now qualified to work on other major government projects, and have also supported its certification through the Kinaway Chamber of Commerce as a 100% Aboriginal Owned and Operated Business. 

Aboriginal artwork was incorporated along the newly constructed walking and cycling path – a Dreamtime story from the Yorta Yorta People and the creation of the Murray River. The artwork was created by local artist, Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty Judy Atkinson using 17 steel panels. The artwork is placed at a natural wayfinding point of the project as a way of improving navigation. It is a key example of urban design integration with the alignment and structures design disciplines. 

 Image 17 2022 03 Retaining wall artwork Auntie Judy Atkinson