Former medical receptionist digging her career in mining

Tania Andrewartha swapped a busy job in the city for the mines four years ago and has no regrets about the career change. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin
Tania Andrewartha swapped a busy job in the city for the mines four years ago and has no regrets about the career change. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin Lisa Benoit

TANIA Andrewartha is digging her career change.

The mother-of-two kicked off her heels for a pair of steel cap boots to take up employment at the mines four years ago and she has not looked back.

Tania is just one of what seems to be a growing number of women opting for mining and construction jobs in Central Queensland.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Fitzroy mining workforce has one of the highest percentages of women compared to other Queensland regions.

ABS Labour Force data shows women comprised 13.8% of Australia's mining sector workforce, up from 12.9% in 2011 and 12.2% in 2008.

Formerly a medical receptionist for 10 years, Tania said she had always dreamed of driving a giant dump truck on a mine site.

"Originally that's what I had applied for when taking the plunge for a career change," she said.

"The doctor I worked for was retiring and so I found it the perfect opportunity to try something completely different."

After seven months of applying for operator positions and having no luck, Tania struck big as a trades assistant at BMA Blackwater Mine in October 2011.

Today, the Rockhampton resident works at Peak Downs Mine near Moranbah on a dragline shutdown.

"I've been working at Peak Downs Mine since the beginning of November last year and the shutdown is scheduled to finish on April 16 this year," Tania said.

"I really enjoy my job because no two days are the same - I have plenty of different duties that I do.

"There is a broad range of people that I meet from all different trades, cities and states and it's great to meet new people all the time."

From dragline cleaning to painting to confined space standby person to assisting painters/blasters, boilermakers and fitters, Tania's career varies from day to day.

Her roster of five days on, two days off, four nights on, two days off offers her the opportunity to balance home and work life.

On her days off, she likes to relax at home with a good book, movie or catch up with her friends and family.

"My two kids are excited that I have taken the opportunity to take on the challenge of a different lifestyle and a career in the mines. They are proud of me knowing that I will own my own home by the end of the year," she said.

"My son also worked in the mines as a trades assistant and only just recently worked alongside me on the same dragline shutdown. That's the first time that any person that I have worked with has ever encountered a mother and son working on the same job.

"On the week I finish night shift, I tend to stay at camp for the weekend and have a few drinks with the other workers. I am lucky there is six other women working on the dragline with me at this shutdown, and they do the same job that I do.

"I enjoy working in this heavily male-dominated workplace; they treat the women the same as any other person and don't make you feel uncomfortable at all, although they can be whingers at times," she joked.

Topics:  careers mining

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