Operations Manager Wes Trist is a long-serving Cleanaway employee and active member of community events such as NAIDOC and Dance Rites. Throughout his 10 years working with Cleanaway, Wes has held many positions including driver and supervisor before his current role as operations manager at the Erskine Park Transfer Station.
Pictured: Wes at the Erskine Park NAIDOC Week 2018 celebrations
“My job here is to lead and support my team through our commitment to extract recyclable material and divert resources from landfill,” he said. “We also extract saleable commodities which we believe will help us all deliver a sustainable future for our environment and communities.”
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wes is upbeat about this year’s National Reconciliation Week and mindful of the challenges faced by his community.
“Similar to our Cleanaway values, this year’s theme ‘In This Together’ highlights the fact we as a nation and society can achieve great change and improvement for everyone both at home and at work if we just work together as a collective rather than individually.”
Pictured: Wes (left) at the ELT Conference in March 2019 with Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal
“I am actively reaching out to friends in a time that we may be doing it tough given unemployment rates – just to remind them of my willingness to assist them and to let them know they aren’t alone,” he said. “It’s probably not so much in celebration, but I think it is very much aligned with ‘In This Together’.”
For Wes, the key to facilitating culturally safe and respectful discussions in the workplace and amongst the community is to be mindful, open, accepting, respectful and to reflect on your own beliefs.
“Meaningful discussions have a higher likelihood of reaching mutually desired outcomes,” he said. “At the very least, you would have laid foundations for genuine positive relationships which underpin our connectedness.”
Wes looks up to Adam Goodes as one of his favourite Indigenous community leaders. “We all know of the racism challenges Adam faced even despite having a stellar career in AFL,” he said.
Wes receiving the ‘Inclusion’ Star Award 2019 from Cleanaway CEO & Managing Director
“However, I cannot go past my own mum,” Wes said with a smile. “Having been raised out on country in far north west NSW during a period of rampant racism, my mum’s progression in her own career with the education department and absolute dedication to her family inspired me every day to overcome my own challenges and to always continue pressing forward.”
Strong family ties are important to Wes, “I am fortunate enough to be married to an Irish woman from Cork,” he said. “It goes without saying this is a mighty culture gap to bridge, but we couldn’t be happier.”
When asked about his Reconciliation message, Wes urged his fellow Australians to get out of their comfort zone. “Immerse yourself in another culture, you will probably enjoy the experience,” he said. “Forget stereotypes and have a discussion with someone about why their culture means so much to them. Ultimately, this is how we enact reconciliation on our own doorsteps.”
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