Posted on: July 7, 2022 Posted by: Admin Comments: 0

When Malyangapa woman Emily Patten finished high school she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

She’d started a Certificate III in Education Support, but knew it wasn’t for her.

“I didn’t really know where to go from there,” Ms Patten said.

“I was working at Woolworths for over a year. I knew I wanted to do something more but wasn’t really sure where to go or how to get there.”

But she started talking to Aunty Valda Murray at the Burraja Cultural Centre, who had an idea.

Aunty Valda referred her to a man named Jebb Hutchison.

Mr Hutchison, a proud Wiradjuri man, is TVN On-Country’s managing director, at the head of a majority Indigenous-owned commercial construction enterprise based in Wodonga.

A young woman with black hair dyed with strips of green gives a speech at a podium in front of a sign saying on-country pathways
Ms Patten is going to university after completing a traineeship with TVN.(ABC News: Katherine Smyrk)

The business had been offering traineeships to young First Nations people, showing them the ropes of the industry.

For the past year, Ms Patten has been learning about business administration at TVN.

Now she’s about to head to university to study construction management.

Seeing Ms Patten’s success encouraged Mr Hutchison to throw himself full-time into what he really wanted to do — making a difference in the lives of young First Nations people.

He has now launched On-Country Pathways, a new, Indigenous-owned and -operated not-for-profit that would offer young First Nations people employment and career pathways into the commercial construction industry.

The on-country vision

Mr Hutchison started TVN On-Country with two friends, Jonathan Whelan and Gareth Vannoort, four-and-a-half years ago.

“Opportunities are everything in life. I was given one as a young fella, I’m now trying to give as many as I possibly can to young people,” Mr Hutchison said.

TVN had been offering some traineeships to young people like Ms Patten. But now it’s an official part of the business.

A young woman stands in between two men all in matching grey jackets outside in a garden.
Mr Hutchison, Ms Patten and Mr Moffitt are part of On-Country Pathways.(ABC News: Katherine Smyrk)

There were a number of levels within the On-Country Pathways program: work experience for those still in school; a traineeship where young people will undertake a Certificate III in Business Administration; a work placement program for entry level positions; and a cadetship program where businesses will pay a candidate to work and study.

Program manager and proud Bidjigal man Darren Moffitt explained they would use TVN’s extensive contacts in the industry to help find opportunities, and work with high schools, TAFEs and universities to promote the program to young people.