Joanne Pellew, the founder and CEO of Ochre Workforce Solutions and the managing director of iWork, is widely hailed as Australia’s foremost authority on indigenous employment issues and remains dedicated to closing the indigenous unemployment gap through her diverse entrepreneurial efforts. Founded in 2010, Ochre Workforce Solutions originally adhered to a labour hire and recruitment model before expanding to serve as a registered training organisation (RTO) as well.
As Joanne’s entrepreneurial endeavour continued to flourish in the years since its founding, the human resources and end-to-end recruitment process expert recognised an additional opportunity to support the indigenous workforce through the creation of iWork, an indigenous jobs site designed to meet the uniquely specific needs of employers and job-seekers while adapting to the ever-changing economic climate in Australia.
What do you (or your business) do?
Ochre is a 100% Indigenous owned labour hire, recruitment and training company. Ochre works tirelessly to bridge the Indigenous employment gap, by connecting employers and job-seekers with real and meaningful solutions. Ochre creates Indigenous employment opportunities by providing training and employment solutions to all members of the community. We exceed client expectations and create long-term positive relationships with our employers, suppliers and the Indigenous community. I have dedicated most of my professional life to overcoming the issues facing the Indigenous employment sector, and have founded my organisations based on this need. I was the first Indigenous woman in Australia to start an Indigenous labour hire company (Ochre) servicing the mining sector as a private company on my own. I am also the only Indigenous woman to operate a private RTO in Western Australia, which has now enabled me to be uniquely positioned. As a proud Noongar woman, I can identify my community’s challenges and identify meaningful resolutions. I have built a nationwide network of job-seekers and corporate affiliations, and have since matched over 1,000 Indigenous workers with roles across a range of industries, including:
- Mining and resources
- Oil and gas
- Transport, logistics and warehousing
- Hospitality and catering
- Gardening and landscaping
Ochre Workforce Solutions employs innovative and effective strategies to connect job-seekers with vacancies and addresses the key aspects of driving Indigenous employment, including:
- Identifying skills gaps
- Pre-employment training
- Labour hire solutions
- Permanent placement solutions
iWork is using technology to bring the jobs to the people instead of the people going to look for the jobs. Our advantage is that we cross post the jobs on all of our social media platforms which then drives traffic back to the site. From 1st of January to now, we’ve had over 110,000 visitors to the site without an advertising and marketing budget. The site is only over a year old. We understand that to give value for money to our advertisers, we can’t just be another static jobs board like all the others; we are future proofing our platform by way of tapping into the under-valued power of social media. Additionally, the SMS technology is currently going through the Patent Application process, the system I designed had never been used in the World before, which was hard to believe. Additionally, we have the highest level of engagement of any Indigenous specific website or mainstream job boards have ever had. Eg, a cleaning role had a reach of over 20,000 people due to the level of engagement. In comparison, another organisation which has a $14.5 million annual budget and has a similar jobs board has virtually no engagement. Some Government officials have seen the benefit in utilising iWork jobsite to not only advertise their Indigenous roles but to also use that large amount of traffic to collect data, that data will then be used to form policies around certain Indigenous areas. That is especially exciting to know my platform is not just a jobs board but a collection point of data to create more relevant Indigenous policies
How long have you been in business?
I founded Ochre Workforce Solutions 2010; it’s almost hard to believe how much we have been able to accomplish over the past seven-plus years.
How do you stay successful in your industry?
I don’t think it’s related to industry, it’s related to me as a person and what drives me. I live and breathe business and love the whole process of how to do business. When you truly love what you do, you will always find a way through challenges and hurdles. I have the ability to see gaps where others don’t and then to act quickly to fill the gap without waiting for a second opinion or an approval process, I just do it. My flexibility and being able to quickly adapt to shifting circumstances is an advantage. I also think because I started my business before any Indigenous specific initiatives came in and because I’m not dependant on a Native Title deal or priority status, I can do business in a commercial sense in the mainstream way. That is another advantage which gives my clients and employees the confidence to know I am around for the long haul, not just a flash in the pan to leverage a short term opportunity.
- What is your favourite restaurant in Perth?
My favourite restaurant of all time is Nobu at Crown Perth. It has a fusion menu of Asian and seafood and mainstream. The quality and taste of the food is top level and the atmosphere and table service is second to none. It’s also quite close to where I live so very convenient for special occasions.
- What is something someone must-do when in Australia?
Every single visitor coming to Australia should visit the Kimberley after spending a few days in a luxury resort in the coastal town of Broome. Broome has one of the best beaches in the World, iconic landmarks, pristine untouched landscapes, unbelievable colours, glittering night time skylines, tropical weather, great food and an eclectic mix of local people that is unique to the world thanks to the historic pearling industry. The Kimberley is a vast region with beautiful landscapes and many rich cultural hubs of Indigenous people who are world famous for their collectible artworks.
What has travel taught you that you have applied in both your personal and business life?
I have travelled extensively and regularly around Australia. Travel has taught me that it is not a glamourous past time and that it takes a lot of organisation and preparation to ensure each trip has a good outcome. I always enjoy meeting people from different parts of the country and hearing from them about their local issues or successes. I am extremely fortunate that I have the ability to fly all over the country to meet personally with companies on demand, which is the most crucial first step to building good working relationships. I think some of my success and ability to win national contracts is being flexible and available to meet with potential clients when they need me to be there When I travel I gain a lot of intel about my industry or upcoming opportunities, or just knowing who is doing what is always a benefit and I apply that knowledge to my businesses. One of the main things that all of my travel has taught me is that the World is full of opportunities, you just have to be able to see them and then do something about it.