As Australia celebrates Harmony Day on 21 March, electricity distributor Powercor team members in Ballarat have been celebrating the benefits of their increasingly diverse workforce.
When Powercor began redesigning its Ballarat depot and office space last year, a simple question helped make the office a more inclusive place.
Ita Rahmawati, who is a Muslim, had been using a small office as a makeshift prayer room since joining the team in April 2017.
It was long-term employee and Ballarat resident Rob McDougall who asked Ita: what she would need to ensure she had a private area for her daily prayers?
The new Powercor office, which opened late last year, now has a specially-created reflections and prayer room, that provides a private place for Ita to pray in and has become popular for anyone else wanting a space for quiet time and meditation.
“Powercor supports diversity and inclusiveness. I feel really good to be part of this positive environment amongst my peers,” Ita said.
The Powercor Ballarat depot accommodates over 200 people from its field and network services, metering operations, maintenance and customer services teams.
Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, Ita joined the Customer Service team in Ballarat in April 2017 through Ballarat Council’s migrant employment program.
Rob McDougall, Ballarat’s Customer Requests Rural Lead, said Ita had a strong background as a sales engineer in the valve and pipeline industry but could not find a job in Ballarat.
At the same time Rob recruited Reena Konduru, a migrant from India, through the same program. She has a background in Electrical Engineering and was initially employed as a Customer Compliance Officer but has she has since moved into the Design and Customer Programs team where she is a Technical Design Officer.
“I am so pleased that we found Ita and Reena. They were both standout candidates and have been a breath of fresh air while also making an immense contribution to the team,” said Rob.
“The increase in diversity of the Powercor Ballarat office reflects what is happening in and around Ballarat. We have a growing population of people moving to Ballarat from diverse cultural backgrounds.”
Rob said the events in Christchurch last Friday underscored how important it is that the community came together and embraced our differences.
“Now more than ever it is important that we pay attention to days like Harmony Day and come together to promote harmony.”
In mid-2018, Ita was selected as an Intercultural Ambassador by the City of Ballarat for a three-year term to promote harmony amongst Ballarat residents.
“Being an ambassador is my chance to be actively involved in programs which will benefit Muslim community and also Ballarat residents in general. Through the program, I am able to educate others about solidarity and respect, regardless of culture, religion, gender and race.” It said.
“Harmony Day celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity and is all about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.”