A Rio Tinto Weipa electrician has been named ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the 2017 National NAIDOC Awards and hopes to inspire other women to consider a career in mining.
Sharee Yamashita successfully completed an electrical apprenticeship with Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations and graduated from her studies in February 2017. She recently secured a full-time role as an electrician at the same site.
Ms Yamashita was born on Thursday Island and attended boarding school in Townsville where she developed her strengths in maths, legal studies and physics.
A cousin working as an apprentice diesel fitter encouraged Ms Yamashita to apply for an electrical apprenticeship at Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations – where she could put her strong background in maths and science to work.
“I’m humbled to have won this award,” Ms Yamashita said. “I’m so fortunate to have had strong workplace and family mentors who have supported me along the way.”
“Rio Tinto has opened so many doors for me and I hope my win inspires other women, particularly those from Indigenous backgrounds, to consider a career in the mining industry.”
Rio Tinto general manager, Weipa operations, Daniel van der Westhuizen said Ms Yamashita’s determination to succeed was commendable.
“She has a very bright future ahead of her,” he said.
“At Rio Tinto Weipa operations we are proud of the work we do through our Indigenous employment and development programs. Supporting the advancement of local Aboriginal people is key to positioning the Western Cape for a long-term sustainable future.”
The NAIDOC Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians make to improve the lives of Indigenous people. The event is also an opportunity to promote issues to the wider community.