"These partnerships are rich on so many levels," says Maria. "It's been amazing for the students, but also for our employees. They learn as much as we do and it gives students and young graduates an opportunity to see what might lie ahead."
Macquarie hosts students, attends events, visits schools, and opens the door to discuss funding support or other needs, including grants from the Macquarie Group Foundation.
"Building pathways to employment through education is a key objective of the First Nations ENG," Maria explains. "But we also need to ensure our organisation is culturally aware and offer use of our business skills where we can through pro bono work or volunteering."
The First Nations ENG has also undertaken other initiatives like connecting Indigenous organisations with the Metro Martin Place project to design public spaces.
"We've achieved a lot but I am almost overwhelmed by how much more there is to do," says Maria. "This summer we will have 18 CareerTrackers interns, the largest number we've ever had."
"We have some way to go on cultural awareness, and understanding First Nations People's connection to land, or how history points to the many issues we have today," says Maria.
"NAIDOC Week gives Australians the chance to reflect on 65,000 years of cultural history, sustainability and resilience. We all have a part to play in that, but it shouldn't just be one week of the year - it should be every day."
Todd Crawford: From apprentice to graduate
Todd Crawford grew up in Roma, a small town in western Queensland, seven hours drive from Brisbane.
"I wasn't particularly academic and undertook a school-based apprenticeship," Todd explains. "The electronics part of the TAFE course required me to go to Brisbane and that opened my eyes to a whole new world that I hadn't known existed."
Todd discovered he enjoyed studying and, after finishing his apprenticeship, he returned to Brisbane to embark on a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at QUT.
He also connected with CareerTrackers, a national non-profit program that creates paid internship opportunities for Indigenous students, and provides support systems for Indigenous students to attend and graduate from university.
Through CareerTrackers, Todd completed several internships, including with Macquarie. This inspired him to incorporate finance into his degree. When Todd completed his university studies in 2019, he moved to Sydney to join Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) in the Graduate Program.