Image: Len Waters Royal Australian Air Force Worimi F/A-18A Hornet was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow demonstrating Air Force’s commitment to indigenous men and women who have served and continue to serve, in the Australian Defence Force.

GRT YURRUUN MURRI MIRRA – Proud Indigenous People Making Roads

The achievements of Len Waters, Australia’s first indigenous RAAF pilot, were barely recognised in his lifetime, despite daring feats behind the controls of his P-40 Kittyhawk ‘Black Magic’ flying sorties in the South Pacific.

Despite a stellar war record, including missions where shells were fired into his cockpit, Warrant Officer Waters was frustrated in his attempts to establish an airline servicing South West Queensland, blocked by bureaucracy and a lack of funding. He ultimately returned to shearing and passed away in 1993, aged 69.

Now Len’s daughter, Dianne Russel, is determined to ensure other young indigenous men and women have the opportunity to overcome those roadblocks, launching a new infrastructure company with indigenous owners, GRT Yurruun Murra Mirra aimed at providing training and development for a new generation.

GRT Yurruun Murra Mirra , in partnership with Global Road Technology, will undertake projects in regional Australia and remote Torres Strait Islands, aiming to leave a legacy that creates positive commercial and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

GRT Yurruun Murri Mirra Pty Ltd – In traditional language, Yurruun means roadway or track or path way or planning a roadway track or path, Murri means Indigenous People, Mirra means walking tall or proud, GRT Yurruun Murri Mirra Pty Ltd is a company aiming high.

“We know that education and employment are the keys to ensuring a better quality of life for people living in indigenous communities, and our company aims to provide those keys,” Ms Russell said.

“My father was born on an Aboriginal mission, and didn’t have the opportunity of an apprenticeship or tertiary education, so after the war he was limited in his choices; shearing sheep in the country was the best paid work he could find.”

Ms Russell said GRT Yurruun Murri Mirra Pty Ltd aimed to providing training opportunities for local community members on diverse projects including road construction, pipeline development, and water and infrastructure installation.

The company aimed to ensure participants secured recognised qualifications, enabling them to work locally or move to other projects.

“My father was a proud man, who worked hard, and we want to make sure that, through our company, other proud, hard-working indigenous men and women have every opportunity open to them,” Ms Russell said.

“Where some other companies working in indigenous communities have sought to ensure larger percentages of indigenous employment, that can mean that roles are concentrated in a smaller community of qualified people who move from project to project.”

Ms Russell said GRT Yurruun Murri Mirra Pty Ltd would work with communities to identify required skills, and the local skills gap, to ensure training and development was effective and delivered ongoing benefits to the community.

“Empowerment through participation, whether through education, work and local government, is the only way to support indigenous self-determination,” she said.

“We want to lift aboriginal participation more broadly than other projects to date, by providing apprenticeship packages, training packages and mentors to ensure the communities we work with are put on the right path and have the skills to continue achieving well into the future.

“Our approach is about building people, while building infrastructure.”

GRT Yurruun Murri Mirra has been officially certified by Supply Nation as an Indigenous business that is majority owned, controlled and managed by indigenous personnel.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands where we live and work.  We pay respect to them and their Elders – both past and present.

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