Indigenous Hospitality students boost Queensland tourism with Mossman Gorge NITA graduation

Indigenous Hospitality students boost Queensland tourism with Mossman Gorge NITA graduation
Edited by Travel Weekly


    A new contingent of Indigenous hospitality stars has been snapped up by Queensland tourism businesses after graduating from the National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA) at Voyage’s Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre in tropical North Queensland.

    The 2024 NITA graduation celebrations took place at Hughie’s in Mossman on Saturday, 8 June, with Douglas Shire Mayor Lisa Scomazzon, Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre GM Rachael Hodges and MGCC trainees, graduates and their families attending.

    Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre is a world-class ecotourism destination and gateway to the Daintree Rainforest. Its Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk – a guided rainforest walk connecting visitors to local Kuku Yalanji culture – is a renowned “must do” for visitors to North Queensland.

    Graduates each completed a nationally accredited Certificate III in Hospitality, which included work placements at luxury resorts in Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre. Many graduates have gone on to receive job offers from their placement companies, including Aaliyah Nandy at MGCC, Yavaleagh Paii at Ramada Resort, and Lindsay Callope at Niramya Villas and Spa, Port Douglas.

    A Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre Dreamtime Walk Cultural Show.

    From graduate students to tour guides

    Trevayne Pearce, is currently working at Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre as a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk Tour Guide after graduating from NITA in 2023. He is from the local Kuku Yalanji and was also guest speaker at this year’s graduation ceremony.

    “NITA was a place of support, a way to better focus on myself; it took me out of a really difficult spot and it made me grow,” he said.

    “Throughout my journey at NITA everyone’s been really supportive and they feel like family I’ll never forget. With all their support I’ve been able to become the person that I am today.”

    “Now that I’m a tour guide at Mossman Gorge I love teaching new people every day about culture and learning about their culture in return. It’s taught me that we’re not actually too far from one another – that even though we may be different, we’re still all the same.”

    2024 graduate Yavaleagh Paii was offered a place at Ramada by Wyndham, heading back to Brisbane to spend time with her family before she decides on next steps. Achieved the NITA award for “Excellence” this year.

    “It’s been nice coming up here and learning a new culture, meeting heaps of new people and learning new skills and independence. I’m Torres Strait Island, so it’s been great to learn about the Aboriginal culture,” she said.

    “I’ve loved meeting everyone and meeting new faces, I love working somewhere different – it’s very different to the city life. I love how relaxed and slowed down it is up here. And I’ve loved swimming every weekend!”

    Their graduation follows the release of new Tourism Australia stats, which show a 22% increase in domestic travellers choosing an Indigenous experience since 2019.

    “For us the graduation ceremony is a significant milestone and a celebration of the hard work the trainees have done over the past 12 months to get themselves their certificates,” said Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre general manager Rachael Hodges.

    “If you’re wanting a career, and you want to achieve lots in life, this is the perfect place to start. Start with the traineeship here with us at Mossman Gorge and the world opens up to you.”

    “Currently over 60% of our staff at Mossman Gorge are Indigenous and we’d certainly love to see that increase, and for other business to take on our young people in these types of programs.”

    Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) established to undertake tourism business on its behalf.

    The NITA graduates Yavaleagh Paii, Aaliyah Nandy and Lindsay Callope at Hughie’s.

    Real-life tourism work environment

    NITA provides young Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders the opportunity to live, learn and earn in a real work environment while achieving market-leading hospitality and tourism qualifications at Voyages’ Mossman Gorge and Ayers Rock Resort sites. Mossman Gorge’s Indigenous employment figures are now among the highest in the industry, at over 60%, with many NITA graduates among its staff.

    “Our graduates have bright futures in tourism ahead, and we’re proud of what they have achieved on their NITA journey at Mossman Gorge,” says Matt Cameron-Smith, CEO Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

    “This year we’ll celebrate our 700th NITA graduate, testament to the strong demand for the program from trainees, employers and the wider industry – with all groups reaping the benefits of shared Indigenous culture, knowledge and skills.”

    Douglas Shire Mayor Lisa Scomazzon congratulated the graduates for completing their traineeship with NITA

    “Over the years, the program has provided a springboard for young Indigenous people to find jobs in tourism and hospitality and I am sure this will also be the case for the latest round of graduates,” he said.

    “Regardless of whether they find work at a Port Douglas resort or with a tourism operator elsewhere, Council will always be proud their employment journey began with NITA at Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre.”

    For more information visit NITA | National Indigenous Training Academy

    2024 NITA graduates Yavaleagh Paii, Aaliyah Nandy and Lindsay Callope.

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