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Industry-first engineering partnership linked to benefit Indigenous communities

[by Jonathan Ding]


Jason Marshall (Elevate Consulting Engineers), Jared Lillywhite (Aurecon) and Sean Whitfield (Elevate Consulting Engineers). Image: supplied

International design, engineering and advisory company Aurecon has signed an industry-first partnership with engineering start-up, Elevate Consulting Engineers to create business, employment and sustainable development opportunities for First Nations communities across Australia.  


The partnership will couple best-in-class engineering expertise with cultural insights to meet the unique needs of Indigenous communities. An ongoing program will provide trainees and emerging engineers with Indigenous backgrounds a series of opportunities for employment, alongside training and professional development. 


Aurecon’s Property and Place Industry Leader, Jared Lillywhite said “This partnership is the latest testament to Aurecon’s promise to value, celebrate and harness First Nations knowledge and will enable Aurecon and Elevate to work collaboratively for mutual benefit.  

“The professional services industry is very competitive, and it can be difficult for First Nations people to grow their businesses within that environment,” Mr Lillywhite said. “We are providing Elevate with the opportunity to build a successful team and culture in their own way, while working with us as if they were Aurecon employees, so that they can thrive as a business in their own right. 


“The partnership provides Elevate with guaranteed engineering and design work, supports them in their growth through providing access to our technology, people and systems, and allows us to share knowledge and succeed together.” 


Sean Whitfield, Co-owner of Elevate Consulting Engineers, said, “Indigenous focus is in our business DNA. There is a lot of eagerness from Indigenous communities, but not a lot of opportunities, especially for the technical aspects of engineering. 


“This partnership means we’ll be able to expand our work in Brisbane to a much broader scope in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria, helping create employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people who want to have a career in STEM.” 


Based in Brisbane, Elevate is a civil engineering design company registered with Supply Nation, Australia’s leading database of verified First Nations businesses. Founded by long-time friends and colleagues, Jason Marshall and Sean Whitfield, who is proud of his Indigenous background, their goal is to build a sustainable business that values diversity and places a premium on Indigenous employment and training opportunities.   


This partnership is one initiative named in Aurecon’s 2022-2024 Reconciliation Action Plan as part of the company's broader plan to support and engage with First Nation communities.  


Previous initiatives include Aurecon’s multi-award-winning Project Gilghi that involved a breakthrough off-grid water purifying system for remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. 


Aurecon engages First Nations owned suppliers through its Australian strategic sourcing and procurement practices. Since 2019, the company has spent more than $1 million with First Nations businesses. 


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