Interacting with people is at the heart of his job, so it’s no surprise that our Community Engagement Manager, Colin Majid, is a valued member of the Darwin community and is a respected role model to the Indigenous youth.
An Indigenous man himself, with his parents coming from Boigu Island in the Torres Strait and Wuthathi clan from Shelburne Bay in the Cape York peninsula, Colin was born on Thursday Island before moving to Darwin as a three-year-old with his parents and many relatives.
Although Colin travelled and worked in various other roles all around the country – like running Cash Converters stores, working for the Bureau of Statistics, in tourism in the mines and finally in the bus industry – his heart was always in the Territory and he wanted to be close to his family and do something that mattered.
So, when his mate Alfie May, a Larrakia man, who was previously in the community engagement role, suggested Colin step up to the plate – “Mate, you know everyone that I do” – Colin couldn’t say no.
From the INPEX ICHTHYS project to having a gas in the community
Colin, who had been driving trucks since 1981, started his career in the bus industry in 2013. He joined Buslink Vivo as the lead driver transporting workers on the INPEX ICHTHYS gas project in Darwin (pictured).
When the project finished in 2019, a few months later, Colin joined the Northern Territory’s largest public, school and charter bus operator, Buslink NT.
He worked as a special needs bus driver for a month before being appointed to the full time Community Engagement Officer role (and later was promoted to manager overseeing all community and schools engagement in the Territory).
Now, Colin is so entrenched within the community, that the younger generation are listening to what he’s got to say.
“I tell them that I’m a Millner boy (Colin attended Milner Primary School then Nightcliff High School), “so I know what Darwin is like and I know your parents, and some of these kids are even distant relatives – even if they don’t know it – and absolutely they listen,” he said.
One of the biggest parts of his job is educating youths about school bus behaviour and antisocial behaviour – which is a big problem in the community that often results in ongoing rock throwing incidents, damaging buses.
“I love going to the primary schools and educating them about school bus behaviour and road safety. As they get older, they are better students as they’ve learnt about it,” he said.
“I’ll go to most of the schools in the region, including the Clontarf and Stars Academies, and talk to them about road safety, and also invite them to the depot,” he said.
“I’ll pick them up in the bus and then someone will talk to them about what we do here, and we’ll take them to each department and show them what happens. They like it, it’s lots of fun. They learn how big buses are and we make it light-hearted and have a bit of fun – we even get some of them to blow into the breathalysers.”
But that’s not all – Colin, who started out in the business as a bus driver, sometimes does the school bus runs himself or rides along with other drivers, to help him truly understand and connect with kids and the community.
“The kids get to know me, and I sometimes jump on the buses that are having problems so I can try to help sort them out,” he said.
Colin said correcting the bad behaviour on the buses can be difficult, but during a recent outreach session in a classroom, he asked the students themselves what could be done to help curb the antisocial behaviour.
“We came up with some really good ideas that I took back to Buslink – some of them were wish list ideas, like bigger seats etc., but a lot of the other things we can fix straight away, like wanting the drivers to be ‘more-stricter’, conscious of first impressions or setting the tone,” he said.
Colin said that was a great example of opening a healthy dialogue and of drivers and youths working together to fix issues.
“After hearing that, I made a video called ‘Setting the Tone’, which can help some of the bus drivers,” he said.
As Colin pointed out though, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and fixing these deep-rooted behaviours wouldn’t be a quick fix.
“I used to think I’ll go and do this, and we’ll fix it fast, but something sometimes needs two- or three-years hard work at it, you’ve just gotta keep doing it.
You do see improvements, but you’ve just got to go slow – for example last year from January to June, we had 64 rock throwing incidents and this year we’ve had 28.
“I used to get frustrated, you know, I’d have just been to a school and talked to them and then I get a call saying they’ve played up again.”
Passionate about Buslink’s commitment to raising awareness and developing Indigenous cultural understanding, Colin also regularly meets with Aboriginal communities like the Kululuk community and Larrakai Nation, as well as other community groups to identify ways to work together to combat these issues.
“It’s constant but I love interacting with people.”