Mackay Indigenous tradeswoman a rising star

  • Posted 30 November, 2020
  • Media Releases

30 November 2020

Tenille Tonga, Hastings Deering’s first Indigenous female leading hand, has taken out the Rising Star category in the prestigious Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Indigenous Awards.

The award was presented by QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane at its seventh annual awards today.

The online presentation included Keynote speaker Fiona Jose, Chief Executive Officer at Cape York Partnership, with music by Troy Cassar-Daley, and also featured an address by Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, a Bidjara/Birri Gubba Juru woman and staunch advocate for the rights of Indigenous people.

Tenille, a Yuwibara woman, manages a team of 20 diesel fitters, trades assistants and apprentices in Hastings Deering’s Mackay Component Rebuild Group.

“My Dad often jokes that I was born with a spanner in my hand rather than a silver spoon in my mouth,” said Tenille.

“I love spending time in the shed, working on my Jeep Wrangler and motorbikes.”

Tenille attended Mackay Christian College where she gained a Certificate I in Construction, focusing on trades and engineering before starting her apprenticeship as a diesel fitter in 2013 and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson in 2017.

“The fact an aboriginal gay female manager can be a leader in a traditionally white-male dominated field, shows just how far the industry has come.”

Mr Macfarlane congratulated Tenille on her achievements.

“Tenille demonstrates just the sort of grit and determination that helps make our resources sector great,” he said.

“She is an outstanding role model and ambassador for our sector, and I know her example will encourage other Indigenous people to succeed in resources.

“Indigenous people make up 4 percent of the combined QRC member company workforce, which is on par with their representation in Queensland’s population.

“By profiling people like Tenille through these awards, we hope to better that in the years to come.”

QRC thanks major sponsors Rio Tinto and Evolutinon Mining, as well as Thiess, Glencore, Anglo American, Hastings Deering, Shell-QGC, Australian Pacific LNG, Bravus, Ventia, Mine Super and QCoal.


Media enquiries: Caroline Morrissey 0417 770 893


All finalists and placings


Exceptional Indigenous Person in Queensland Resources

Winner – Brad Welsh, Acting General Manager Weipa Operations, Rio Tinto

Runner-up – John Fickling, Concentrator Advanced Technician (Relief Supervisor – 2IC), Supervisor Indigenous Employment Program, Glencore Ernest Henry Mining

Highly Commended – Anita Ward, Community Relations Officer, Evolution Mining


Queensland Resources Sector Indigenous Rising Star

Tenille Tonga, Leading Hand, Cylinder Bay, Hastings Deering


Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative

Winner – Breaking the Barriers to Belonging – Sodexo

Runner-Up – Yila Yina Mundu (Turn Around from Here) Training Program – Macmahon and Jangga Operations

Highly Commended – South32 Cannington Indigenous Work Experience Program – South32


Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative

Winner – Whanu Binal Program – Arrow Energy


Exceptional Indigenous Business in Queensland Resources

Winner – Diversified Building Services (QLD)

Runner-Up – Geared Up Culcha

Highly Commended – Stork Goal JV


Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Student

Winner – Lincoln Anderson, Tec NQ

Runner-Up – Claire Briggs, Moura State High School

Highly Commended – Emily Gullen, Nanango State High School


Indigenous Advocacy Award

Winner – Margarita Escartin, Social Performance Manager, QCoal


Recognition of Service to the Queensland Resources Sector

The late Robert Kerry Toby