“I wasn’t sure how integrating people who don’t speak English into our workplace would work,” admitted Brent Bruns, Human Resource Manager for Keech. “But I had no need to worry. Taking the employment process step by step and building a relationship with the Karen community made everyone comfortable and helped them to get to know one another.”
The Bendigo community of 2016 consists of many diverse people, cultures and religions. The workforce at Keech, reflects this diversity with over 22 nationalities represented.
Make a Change, together with the Bendigo Festival of Cultures, are hosting a special Outside the Square event on March the 15th at the Morley Johnson Building. This event will explore how we live together, acknowledging we’re all different.
Diversity is an important key to Keech’s success. Building relationships with different communities has been integral in bringing people together on the factory floor.
“I was introduced to Mooni,” explains Brent. “He is a Monk and leader within the Bendigo Karen community. When we first met in 2011 the community wasn’t sure about the employment offer. Some of the Karen people had bad experiences with other businesses and as a result had low trust when presented with an opportunity. Over time we grew a relationship, built trust and they came to understand how we treat our employees.”
Brent undertook an extensive induction process, with the aid of an interpreter and paper work was completed with the support of Jan Porter from Friends and Mentors Karen Bendigo Community.
“Our first two Karen employees were due to start work at 6am. They arrived at 4.30am to find the place locked,” Brent laughs. “Their enthusiasm to learn and work hard with a smile quickly got the word around that these guys were great. Within 48hours I had supervisors from other sections wanting to know if the Karen employees could join their team.”
Living Together is on Tuesday 15th March 6.30pm to 9pm, at the Morley Johnson Building 23-25 Mitchell St, Bendigo.
More information and to register
This event is hosted by Make a Change Australia in partnership with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and the generous support of The City of Greater Bendigo, The Community Foundation for Central Victoria, Mayor Rod Fyffe and Jumpleads NFP.
Pictured is Dwee Kyaw. He is works within the Keech Distribution Centre, and he was one of the first two Karen Employees, appointed in March 2011