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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

New charity house to deliver significant community benefit

A new charity house project in Strathnairn is set to deliver significant community benefit while providing a platform to promote women in the construction sector.

Designed, built and sold entirely by women, the proceeds from the sale of the house will be donated to Hands Across Canberra for distribution to three local charities: Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, Karinya House and Canberra City Care Charnwood.

Ginninderry Joint Venture and Master Builders ACT (MBA) will collaborate on the design and construction of the premium home. Led by KANE Constructions, the materials and labours will be donated or provided at low cost by MBA members.

Ginninderry Training and Employment Manager, Emma Sckrabei, said that the project is “more than bricks and mortar.”

“It’s about community. It’s about government and the private sector coming together to do things differently,” she said.

“You can’t be what you can’t see and we’re going to shine a light on the role of women in the construction industry…It will be a project that introduces a new generation of women to the construction industry and the traditional trades. It will be the project that creates opportunities and launches new careers.”

MBA President, Graciete Ferreira said charity house projects are a powerful way to bring the construction sector together to create significant community impact and show “the construction industry is a real option.”

“This one was particularly special because it’s about women and its hopefully getting more women into the construction industry. This will give a bit more exposure to what sort of jobs women can do and they can show that you can build a whole house with women on every single facet of it,” she said.

“This also gives the perspective not all developers are greedy developers, not all builders are greedy builders, they want to give back and they want to give back in a way that goes directly to our local charities.”

Project render of the charity house.

The SPARK Women in Trades program was also officially launched by Ms Sckrabei. The new Ginninderry Training and Employment program will deliver an accredited program for women interested in construction which will run alongside the charity house, using it as a live training site. Ms Sckrabei explained the idea behind the program is to give women in the community a firsthand opportunity to see what a trades career could look like in reality.

“With the statistics that show that women in trades is less than 1% across Australia, we thought it was about time we did a women focused trades program,” she said.

According to Ms Sckrabei over the last 35 years the proportion of women employed in the construction sector has been steadily declining.

“In 2016 women occupied 17% of the entire construction workforce, decreasing to 11% in 2020. While this figure is low, the proportion of women employed in trades is even lower,” she said.

Ms Sckrabei said the low statistics can be connected to “many different answers.” 

“When you’re at school and you’re a girl, you don’t necessarily get told that construction is a normal pathway for women.”

“I think lack of education, the culture, the expectation of women’s role traditionally and also raising children comes into it.”

Ms Ferreira said that while MBA has run multiple programs bring more women into construction, the number of female apprentices in the ACT has only risen to 11%.

“We need to get that up, we need to get more women into it. There are some beautiful examples of young women who have done the trade, really enjoyed what they’re doing and brought a different perspective to the industry as well.”

The sale of the house will be led by a “dream team” of female real estate agents and a female auctioneer will finalise the sale. According to Ms Ferreira, the contribution of low-cost labour and material means more money will go to charity. Hands Across Canberra Chief Executive Peter Gordon says the impact on these charities, and the communities they serve, will be significant.

 “The selected charities provide an invaluable contribution to Canberra and the proceeds from the charity house auction will allow them to continue to grow their impact.”

“These are organisations that are making a genuine difference in our community.”

Construction of the Ginninderry Charity House will soon commence with completion targeted for late 2021.

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