Indigenous Australian work crew builds social housing development in Bega

WORKING AS A TEAM: Members of Mundabaa Constructions and the Aboriginal Housing Office on site in Bega are Bobby Maher, Bronwyn Luff, Shane Moore, Dennis Arvidson, Chris Bird, Jeremiah Bamblett, Simon Newport, Drew Smeath, Pete Ahmat, Naef Qassis and Gavin Evans.
WORKING AS A TEAM: Members of Mundabaa Constructions and the Aboriginal Housing Office on site in Bega are Bobby Maher, Bronwyn Luff, Shane Moore, Dennis Arvidson, Chris Bird, Jeremiah Bamblett, Simon Newport, Drew Smeath, Pete Ahmat, Naef Qassis and Gavin Evans.

A Far South Coast construction enterprise that is made up of local Indigenous Australian workers has won the tender to build the newest social housing block in Bega.

Mundabaa Constructions is currently building four dwellings in two duplexes at Hart Crescent, Bega after winning the open tender from the NSW government.

It is the first major project for the enterprise after it was created by Twofold Aboriginal Corporation from its maintenance crew with the aim of providing additional employment and training opportunities for the local Indigenous Australian population and youth.

According to the corporation's CEO Chris Bird the construction team was extremely happy about the work.

"They love it, it's a huge thing for them," he said.

"The corporation is owned by the community so this is them creating their own future.

"It's good for our tenants to see their own kids fixing their houses and getting a job and getting a house."

With work starting a month ago he said it would take about nine more months to complete the social housing construction, and it was great to have a long-term project because it was perfect for getting people into training and apprenticeships.

Mundabaa has eight permanent and 10 casual workers, with Mr Bird saying one has started a carpentry apprenticeship and others have expressed interest in other trades.

He hoped in the future they would start their own businesses then Mundabaa could subcontract to them.

By working with other Indigenous Australians, team members avoid the unpleasant attitudes some people have experienced in the industry.

"In a lot of construction projects, it's a pretty tough environment," Mr Bird said.

"Racism rears to the surface pretty quickly."

Members of the Aboriginal Housing Office visited the Bega construction site on Wednesday, including the office's director Simon Newport who congratulated Mundabaa on winning the tender.

"We were really, really glad to see Chris's organisation win the contract," he said.

"They'd done some award-wining work for us before.

"We were particularly glad to hear they use a lot of local labour and local businesses."

Social housing in the Bega Valley was in high demand, he said, especially for elders and young couples.

Mr Bird said Mundabaa was the sole Indigenous Australian-only construction company on the Far South Coast and Mr Newport there was not as many such companies across the state as his office would like.

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