Noongar-owned business Six Seasons Resources has struck a deal with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) for the use of thermal imaging cameras to screen FMG employees flying in and out of resource jobs across Australia.

A diverse business, the majority of Six Seasons’ work is in security, commercial cleaning and labour hire.

Six Seasons CEO, Angela Kickett, said early in the COVID-19 crisis, the company began exploring ways to diversify should their main income streams take a hit.

“We started looking at … what solutions companies were looking for during this time,” Kickett said.

“One of those predominant tools that [were being] used was the thermal imaging cameras.”

Used in temperature detection, thermal imaging cameras can measure surface temperatures as people walk through the camera’s frame.

Once Kickett had identified this significant gap, the CEO and her team quickly began the process of sourcing some cameras.

“It was actually really hard, we rang around to a lot of different people … it took a lot of phone calls,” Kickett said.

With a stroke of luck, the CEO had a business contact who had direct contact to a supplier—the cameras were secured.

The CEO said she didn’t think any other Indigenous company had secured thermal imaging cameras and were offering these services.

Kickett then contacted Heath Nelson, FMG’s Community Development Manager. The CEO already has an established relationship with FMG through other Six Seasons contracts and her former labour hire company.

“He got back to me really quickly. As it stood, they were in the market at that time looking for [thermal imaging cameras],” Kickett said.

“We started working with their procurement team … we [now] supply three thermal imaging cameras for them as well as thermometers.”

Thermal imaging cameras detect surface temperatures. Photo supplied.

At FMG, thermal imaging checkpoints are one of the measures that have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nelson said Six Seasons approached FMG with the procurement offer and soon after hired the technology from the Aboriginal-owned business.

“[We use] three thermal imaging cameras … as part of our temperature and health checks at the Perth Domestic Airport and [have] purchased 12 infrared thermometers for operational sites,” Nelson said.

He said the ongoing impact of the pandemic will be a challenge for Indigenous businesses and that FMG seeks to assist with any issues businesses may face.

“We are also proactively working to ensure that our Indigenous suppliers are part of Fortescue’s ongoing procurement strategy to secure supplies and services needed to contain the spread of COVID-19, including medical supplies, hand sanitiser, cleaning and hygiene products.”

Kickett said Six Seasons itself hasn’t suffered too significantly as a business—demand for their security and commercial cleaning services has actually increased during the pandemic.

“As you can imagine, security is pretty full on … we’re getting a lot more work in this area. Cleaning, too … it’s allowed us to stay in business.”

“Work has certainly died off, but I think just through changing your business model you can still be effective and still have work coming in.”

“It’s still hard, there’s still so much we’ve had to put a hold on as well … contracts we haven’t been able to start.”

As COVID-19 continues across the world, Kickett’s new contract with FMG appears to be safe.

“We should envisage this tool is going to be used for a little while moving forward, at least the next six months,” she said.

By Hannah Cross