Jobseekers take to the high seas

WHEN Tribal Warrior sets sail from Coffs Harbour this morning, there'll be no shortage of adventurers aboard.

Four bright-eyed Aboriginal jobseekers will be given hands-on experience in sailing, basic navigation, anchorage, first-aid, firefighting and survival at sea.

It's all part of a pre-employment program to equip them with the skills they need for a career on the high seas.

The 15.4 metre ketch, Tribal Warrior, is on the final leg of its East Coast journey which has taken crew members from Sydney to Cairns and return.

Coffs Harbour to Sydney is the final leg, which is due for completion on November 14.

At each stage of the three-month voyage, up to five indigenous jobseekers at a time have earnt their certificates in maritime safety and operations to help them become a deckhand, coxswain or even a skipper.

"Everyone gets to know about mooring and tying knots, sea survival and how to cope with emergencies," skipper Dave Vincent said.

"And when you have a few people living together in a small space, you learn how to communicate.

"I think it's a really good thing. We've already had a couple land jobs out of it."

The project is funded by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and is run by Jobfind Centres Australia.

"Jobfind has been working closely with the industry to help ensure that the trainees know there are jobs waiting for them when they come ashore," Jobfind CEO Con Kittos said.

"So far, the trainees have been employed as deckhands for a number of cruise companies.

"We are proud to be helping these jobseekers open the door on an exciting and sustainable career."

Tribal Warrior was built in the Torres Strait as a pearling lugger more than 100 years ago.

She is based in Sydney Harbour and may be the oldest working boat in the nation.

In June 2003, she completed an epic 648-day circumnavigation of Australia.

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