Glencore's Bulga Open Cut mine workers raise money for autistic kids

MAKING AN IMPACT: Bulga Open Cut mine machine operator Jess Burns and her 13-year-old son Lockie Johnson. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

MAKING AN IMPACT: Bulga Open Cut mine machine operator Jess Burns and her 13-year-old son Lockie Johnson. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

Three schools with special needs students are set to share in almost $13,000 thanks to the generosity of Bulga Open Cut mining workers.

The employees raised the money in a raffle during Autism Awareness month and on Friday Hunter River Community School was presented with its $4000 share.

The rest of the money will be shared between Cessnock Public and Singleton Public. 

Principal Tracey Rapson said the school would use the money to buy more play equipment.

“We will buy equipment that has a sensory focus and meets the needs of our young people,” she said.

“It’s fabulous what they have done, they have been very generous.”

Mining manager Nick Slater backed the raffle idea after a staff member suggested it. Glencore, which manages the mine, then put forward an irresistible first prize – a paid weekend off, or, the winner could take three weekday shifts off and be paid for it. 

Tofieq Shahwali, who works in health and safety, said many workers bought multiple tickets to make a difference, and try and win the prize.

Front: Kody O'Brien, Jasmine Cameron, Darcy Simon, Jess Burns and Lockie Johnson, Charleigh Haze and Lillian Ramsey.
Back: Liam Brazier, Michael McGowan, Hunter River Community School principal Tracey Rapson and Tofieq Shahwali.

Front: Kody O'Brien, Jasmine Cameron, Darcy Simon, Jess Burns and Lockie Johnson, Charleigh Haze and Lillian Ramsey. Back: Liam Brazier, Michael McGowan, Hunter River Community School principal Tracey Rapson and Tofieq Shahwali.

He said some of the workers had children with special needs and wanted to contribute.

He also said the company lit up their buildings in blue to reflect the theme during Autism Awareness month.

“A lot of the people who bought multiple tickets knew someone who had a child with autism,” he said.

Jess Burns operates machinery at the mine and is mum to 13-year-old Lockie who attends the school.

She was grateful the company supported the cause and was thrilled with the fundraising efforts.

“It’s a great result and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the people who work there,” she said.

“I’m so blessed to have been able to get him into school here, the teachers are so fantastic.

“It’s the only school of its kind in the area.”

The presentation on Friday

The presentation on Friday

Ms Burns said funding was always a challenge for schools and those with special needs students needed even more help to provide equipment that suited their needs. 

“Schools like this need as much community support as they can get,” she said. 

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