This week we’re celebrating National Volunteering Week and the joy that
comes through supporting others. Thank you to all volunteers across WA, who
dedicate their time to building stronger communities. Woodside proudly supports employees who have contributed more than 39,000 hours to the community since
Jamie, Operations and Facilities Trainer at Woodside's Pluto Gas Plant near Karratha, is one of our many volunteering heroes.
Growing up in Perth, Jamie has been an integral part of the Woodside family over the past 19 years. Volunteering his time with the Murujuga Rangers in WA's north-west as part of Woodside's corporate volunteering program, Jamie discovered an undocumented Indigenous hand engraving within the local landscape, which fuelled a deeper interest in not only his volunteering work, but also the unique Western Australian environment.
We sat down with Jamie to chat about life in Karratha, the role Woodside's corporate volunteering program plays in the local community, and the impact volunteering has had upon his own outlook in life.
Q. What led to your interest in Indigenous art?
I used to walk the hills out the back of Karratha, and one day found a hand engraved on a rock – archaeologists call it a petroglyph. I found it utterly amazing. I submitted the finding to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, just in case, and discovered they didn't know about it – it was a new finding – and now they are intending to do a survey on the back of the find. I guess that piqued my interest.
Q. Is there a link between your work at Woodside and your volunteering work?
I became interested in rock art around here, and volunteered to escort the archaeologists and the traditional land owners to carry out the annual cultural audit. We walk all the way around the fence lines to check out the rock engravings.
It was actually suggested to me at first. I was volunteered to do the volunteering (laughs). A colleague at work suggested I'd be good at it, to have a go sorting out the rosters for the Rangers. That's my past, my skills in rostering.
Q. How significant is the role of the Murujuga Rangers in Karratha?
It's highly significant. The Burrup region is regarded as one of the largest and most important sites for petroglyphs in Australia, if not the world. The Murujuga Rangers are tasked with engaging with the community and tourists, to ensure the sites are preserved for future generations to come.
VIDEO: Murujuga Land and Sea Unit
Q. What did it feel like when you first discovered the hand print?
It felt like I was there with whoever did it. It is a beautiful site, with 360-degree views of the entire terrain. It made me think what it would have looked like 3000 years ago, and whether or not it had changed at all. It gives you respect for the people who lived there thousands of years ago. The print said to me, "hey, this is me." They left a marker for the next generations to see. It's humbling. People have been up here for thousands of years.
For me to find something that no one else knew about is quite humbling. Archaeologists have told me they have never seen a hand, which left me gobsmacked.
Q. What is the significance of preserving Indigenous art in Australia?
The Burrup, in particular, is an irreplaceable library containing thousands of years of customs, beliefs and systems – it's the history of an ancient people. It's not going to happen again, so we need to respect it. There's not going to be another version – these people aren't around anymore. And no one is allowed to do it. At the time, it was the work of the elders - it took years of learning before you could start any engravings. We need to respect and care for the land so the next generations can come here and experience this special place.
Q. So, why volunteer? Why not just let someone else do it?
It's beneficial not just to others, but also to yourself. I never considered volunteering before, but I wanted to help the Ranger. I have been blessed with my years in the Pilbara, and it just feels good to give something back - especially to a people deserving of our help with the important work they do.
They were struggling with their rosters, and I could help with that. Develop a range to roster system, as it is extremely difficult to do anything without proper organisation. And I feel good about it.
And what I can do is offer actual training skills. These are my qualified skills: to help trainees. Contact them, come and see them, and help. Set up training regimes. Assisting with rostering was the main service I provided the volunteers, which totalled about 48 hours in total - and half of that was my own time.
Q. Tell me about the most fulfilling parts of the work?
Reading the feedback from the Rangers that the roster is working well for them and also that they are able to carry on with it themselves. Also, knowing that in a small way that I have contributed to the work that goes on here in the Burrup - to keep it maintained and in good health.
Q. Has volunteering affected your life in anyway?
It has made me more aware of people in the community, in Geraldton, who need our help. These are people who can't do certain things - and there are people who can do those things, and both sets of people don't know each other. I just want to continue to give back as much as I can. When I retire, I still want to engage with the local community, and help out - rather than becoming a hermit and hiding away.
Q. How important is it for other Woodside employees to volunteer their services?
It is extremely important. Apart from the personal benefits, it promotes the company in a good light, and it's what we should be doing - contribute to the communities in which operate. We should be showcasing the good in what we do, because Woodside is a community contributing company. We care, and we care about the people in which operate. We have a saying, "we don't do easy, we do right". Meaning, sometimes it's harder to do the right thing. We just can't live in a world of take; we've all got to give back.
Until you volunteer and experience the impact it has on you, and how it affects you, then you'll truly never understand how important and infectious it is. You don't know until you try it.
Q. Finally, are there any odd, little quirks or details about life as a volunteer (that we'll never know about)?
I think volunteering is contagious, and I can see how easy it will be to become a volunteer junky. You feel so good about it. It should be one of those things that are natural, and what you just have to do, like shopping, school or work. It makes you feel good. You go to bed, and you sleep well. It's just a good thing. People won't know until they do it. People will think about the physical, the hard work, but you end up meeting nice people, putting hand up for work, and they receive you with welcoming arms.