The construction contractor, project manager and steel fabricator has a simple but powerful motto: Together we are stronger.
“This isn’t just about getting someone a job, although that’s how it starts,” says chief executive Callum Mathison. “It goes far beyond that. The people working for us have a big, positive effect on their families, extended families and communities. Mum and dad are going to work, the kids are going to school, people have trades and careers, a regular wage is coming in. Some of our tradies leave us and go to work for mainstream companies. We don’t see that as a failure – we see it as a success.”
In other words, Ingkerreke is making a difference – for the better.
The company has 54 workers, 30 of them Indigenous, including 11 apprentices, who undertake normal trade school studies at Charles Darwin University, either in Alice or Darwin. Two of the apprentices – a carpenter and boilermaker – are about to “sign off” and become fully-qualified tradesmen.
The crew carries out work in remote communities in Central Australia, the Top End, northern Western Australia and northern Queensland, but is looking to expand, particularly in the northern NT.
Ingkerreke is carrying out several contracts, including:
- Renovating and extending homes in Santa Teresa, 82 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs, as part of the Territory Government’s Room to Breathe program;
- Building a three-bedroom duplex at Imanpa, 56 kilometres west of Erldunda;
- Constructing a duplex at Atitjere, 250 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs; and
- Building two three-bedroom houses and renovating 26 other homes at Mutitjulu at Uluru.
“One of the major things we do is work with the community,” says Mr Mathison. “We employ and train local Aboriginal people. We do this quite successfully.”
Ingkerreke is a not-for-profit company but operates on private enterprise lines.
“Like any other business, we have our ups and downs, especially now that the Territory economy is soft,” says Mr Mathison. “But generally our business is working well, especially when it comes to employment outcomes.”
Ingkerreke Outstations Resource Services Aboriginal Corporationwas established 34 years ago by 12 outstations because Traditional Owners wanted Aboriginal people to carry out municipal and essential services work from a central base. Ingkerreke Commercial has since evolved into a versatile enterprise capable of carrying out a wide range of jobs and has been hived off from its parent corporation to become a standalone company.
Ingkerreke’s charter is to:
- Provide high-quality, client-focused services that promote excellence in workmanship for a competitive price;
- Grow the business to be the leading Aboriginal-owned and run building and construction contractor in the Northern Territory;
- Through training that leads to jobs, create sustainable employment for Aboriginal people, while being accorded the same treatment and respect as any commercial builder; and
- Leave a legacy of well-equipped remote Aboriginal populations ready to work in their communities.
Ingkerreke Commercial recruits directly from the region in which it works, preferring to employ local people with ties to the area rather than rely on subcontractors.
“These staff are more likely to keep living in the area throughout their working life, thus contributing to the economic development of the region,” says Mr Mathison.
The company works closely with labour hire organisations and other Indigenous Business Enterprises where possible to build capacity in remote Aboriginal communities.
Ingkerreke Commercial work capabilities include:
- Housing maintenance officers – the company trains staff to deliver responsive maintenance services to the residents of numerous remote Aboriginal communities. This is achieved using local staff who live and work in the community, and who receive administrative support from Ingkerreke Commercial.
- Alice Springs and Darwin panel vacate and planned maintenance – it is part of a group of panel contractors who provide asset maintenance to homes in the Top End and Central Australia.
- Outback power – Ingkerreke delivers repairs and maintenance to about 250 existing renewable energy systems across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland as part of the Outback Power contract.
- Fabrication – provides tailored steel products to withstand Outback conditions, including structural steel and roof trusses, stainless steel kitchens, fixtures and fittings, stairs and custom-made utility trays.
“Our products come guaranteed by experienced tradesmen familiar with desert conditions,” says Mr Mathison. “And our product is 100 percent local – everything we do is sourced and made right here in Alice Springs, including the supply of the steel and its powder coating.” TQ