26 June 2022

Celebrating Matthew Cox, our first Indigenous Construction Cadet - 5 years on

Growing Indigenous construction talent is a nice thing to say, however it’s another thing to do it on a consistent basis. BY Group is proud to say that we walk the talk with our Construction Career Development Program which provides a leg up into a career in the construction industry. Our priority is always on growing our own talent and as such, we provide our cadets with training, mentoring and practical on the job experience.



It’s been our pleasure to have afforded this opportunity to Matt Cox, our very first Indigenous construction cadet who recently celebrated his five-year anniversary with BY Group. So we thought it would be great to hear from Matt in his own words about his experiences and journey over the past five years.

Question:. Can you please tell us about yourself - your journey to BY Group including your childhood and teenage years?

Answer: I’ve grown up in the heart of Redfern, attending Alexandria Park Community school and Matraville sports high school,  I joined the Tribal Warrior program where I was mentored and encouraged to start a career in the Construction Industry.

After commencing a career in the Construction Industry, I then spoke with Lisa Mundine a local community member, who recommend a cadetship with BY Group. Since then I have never looked back.

Question: You came to us via Tribal Warrior Tell me about the program Tribal Warrior run and how Tribal Warrior helped you?

Answer: Tribal Warrior is a morning boxing program which is focused on helping getting kids off the street. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I attended boxing classes at 6am which involved the local police and local members of the community, this was followed by breakfast. The morning boxing session really helped me get into a routine and disciplined me to create the fundamentals pillars required to step into a successful working life.

Question: Tell me about the BY Group Apprenticeship program and what the steps of the program entailed?

Answer: My apprenticeship program with BY Group started with me gaining experience working on site as a labourer under a Foreman and Site Manager. I was then formally offered an Apprenticeship with BY Group and began my Certificate IV in Construction Management. I was then offered leading hand role and am now a Foreman.

Over the past five years I have a completed a range of training including, First Aid, Working at Heights, EWP and more recently I completed a Certificate IV. I am now working to become a qualified Site Manager within the next 2 years.

Question: Who were your mentors, and how did they help you? Can you provide examples of where their advice made a difference to you?

Answer: During the Tribal Warrior programs I had a couple of mentors to look up to, but the one on that was the best was Uncle Byron Serrano, we would hang out all day at working on his place. He really pushed me to construction and helped me get to where I am today. 

Since starting work with BY Group, there have been many mentors I have had to look up to, Malcolm Devin our GM has always been supportive and encouraged me to have a go and stick at iit given me and good life advice. John Cheyney, our Senior Estimator has always been a good sounding board for me.

But Lyle Harris my direct Manager has been the most help with my career as he has been there since my first day and has had the patience to teach me and help me grow. I am grateful for all I have learned at BY Group.

Question: Can you describe the type of work, and some of the different types of projects you worked on over your cadetship?

Answer:  I’ve worked with BY Group on all types of construction from fit outs, to residential, to commercial and civil works. I have learnt a lot about the Construction Industry and am looking forward to the future.

Question: You have attained a Cert 4 in Work Health and safety – can you tell us why safety matters and its importance to BY Group projects?

Answer: Yes I completed the Cert IV Work, Health and Safety course in April this year. In construction and at BY Group safety is paramount. The primary goal with the BY Group safety system is to reduce the risk of injury, illness or death to workers. Additionally, a safe work environment can lead to better mental health, less anxiety and stress for employees.

Question: How did you find the education requirements – were they difficult? What did you discover about yourself as a learner?

Answer: I’ve completed a lot of courses since the start of my employment, whilst courses were technically challenging, I’ve discovered I’m a quick learner and am always looking forward to having the opportunity to further my studies.

Question: As a descendant of the Palawa People in Tasmania, what does your culture mean to you and what role does it play in your life today?

Answer: My culture plays a very big part in my life, growing up in Redfern I was surrounded by my fellow Indigenous people and was lucky enough to learn all about my Aboriginal culture which I embraced. I continue to live in Redfern and play football in the Koori knock-out and Ella 7s.

Question: You’ve become a dad a long way in your time with BY Group – can you tell us what it means to you to be a family man?

Answer: Yes since commencing with BY Group I have now only grown professionally but personally and started a family. I have a beautiful 4 year old girl, Charlotte. She means the world to me. Being able to watch her grow up is special. She is my best friend. 

Question: You joined as our first Indigenous apprentice cadet 5 years ago. What does it mean to you to be working in an Indigenous owned building company, such as BY Group?

Answer:  It means a great deal working with BY Group. It a great to see BY Group and other Indigenous businesses get around each other and support local businesses and communities. Working for an Indigenous owned building make me proud to be Aboriginal and optimistic about the opportunities it can bring to the Indigenous youth.