The Wirrpanda foundations’ mission is to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians across the four pillars of education, employment, justice, and sport. The priority of the foundation remains in employing local Aboriginal role models who are empowered to build capacity in their own communities.

The Wirrpanda foundation works in conjunction with the VTEC (Vocational Training Employment Centre) to connect job seekers to guaranteed job opportunities while providing on-going support and mentoring to maintain continuous employment.

H-E Parts support participants of the program with suitable and sustainable employment opportunities by providing a safe and welcoming working environment while being understanding and respectful of the many barriers and challenges some of our participants face on the career journeys. H-E Parts provide opportunities across all divisions and location for VTEC participants in Australia.

As employees move through the stages, they are strongly supported by the Wirrpanda’s mentors. One of our team members mentor, Chance Bateman was at our Forrestdale branch to show support for our team members during NAIDOC week.

NAIDOC week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities but by Australians from all walks of

While Chance was on-site, we asked a few questions about his relationship with our newest team member, Cody Ninyette.

Chance Bateman

How long have you been mentoring Cody Ninyette?

“I’ve known Cody for well over 12 months now through footy and in that time, I’ve offered Advice and shared personal experiences. It was clear that Cody was looking for a career change and to find something more secure. It was then that I suggested he sign up to the Wirrpanda Foundation’s newest employment program, Bidi Waalitj.

The employment program found Cody a position at H-E Parts in Forrestdale and since that placement I have been fortunate enough to continue to mentor him in a more formalized setting.”

Is mentoring limited to the probationary period of employment or is the support continued for as long as is needed?

“We offer our mentoring/post placement support for a minimum of 26 weeks but if longer is needed we continue it.”

Have you mentored other H-E Parts staff?

“Jamie Bennell, our previous VTEC Employment Mentor, has worked more closely with the other guys at H-E/COR. Since I’ve moved into the Bidi Waalitj Employment Program I will now be working with all future placements there.”

What are Cody’s strengths as an employee?

“I think Cody’s strengths, not just as an employee but as a person is his enthusiastic personality and ability to connect and interact with people from all works of life and varied backgrounds. He’s a cheeky young man but super reliable, committed and very driven. He’s been a pleasure to work with and I want to continue to work with him so he’s able to succeed in all aspects of his life.”

What support does the foundation offer Cody and other VTEC employees?

“We offer full, wraparound support to all of our employment programs’ participants once placed into employment. We’re there to help and guide them through anything they may be struggling, or need assistance with i.e. career goal setting, family grievances and commitments, financial planning etc.”

What is your favorite part of being a mentor?

“Being able to impart your knowledge and share your experiences as a way of supporting, and building confidence in, our Indigenous job seekers. Seeing someone grow both personally and professionally, as a result of your mentoring, to a point where they feel confident enough and motivated to embark on their own long-term career pathway is quite rewarding.”

As Chance’s visit to our Forrestdale branch coincided with NAIDOC week celebrations, we asked Cody Ninyette and colleague Brett Simpson to answer a few questions for us about how they celebrate NAIDOC day with their families.

Cody Ninyette

How does your family celebrate NAIDOC week?

“My dad and I go hunting and sometimes we make stews for local primary schools. We attend local ceremonies and spend time with the family.”

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received from your mentor Chance Bateman?

“Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to just give it a crack, put the work in and you’ll get the rewards.”

Do you feel supported by the foundation?

“They are always there to help and if I need any help or have any questions about anything, I feel I can ask them.”

Brett Simpson

How does your family celebrate NAIDOC week?

“We go to community NAIDOC celebrations with the family.”

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received from your mentor Jamie Bennell?

“Don’t give up and keep fighting and your dreams will come true if you do the hard yards.”

Do you feel supported by the foundation?

“Yes, anytime I need help or advice I know I can give them a call.”


Left: Brett Simpson, Chris Batten, Chance Bateman and Cody Ninyette. Right: Arnold Punch and Xavier Dhurrkay pictured above at our Crushing Solutions Division.