From humble beginnings as a painter to success as a business owner, DDR director Tom Hutcheson has had quite the journey. And you can’t help but sense there’s a lot more to come.
Tom Hutcheson is a proud Wakka Wakka and Kabbi Kabbi man. Wakka Wakka Country is located to the north-west of Meanjin (Brisbane), while Kabbi Kabbi lies alongside the Sunshine Coast.
Tom’s great-great-grandmother Mamie Willoughby, also known as ‘Mimi Dawson’, was born in Eidsvold (Wakka Wakka), about 300 kilometres to the north-east of Brisbane and 165 kilometres to the south-west of Bundaberg (Kabbi Kabbi).
His great-grandmother, Matilda Dawson, or ‘Tilly Willoughby Collins’, known to Tom as Granny Tilly Collins, was born in 1891 on Widgee Station, about 22 kilometres west of Gympie (Kabbi Kabbi).
His grandmother Elsie Willieboy (aka Lewis) was born in Nanango (Wakka Wakka), however, her date of birth is unknown.
Tom’s mother Kathleen Willieboy, known as ‘Kathy’ or ‘Kate Hutcheson’ was born in 1933 at the Barambah Mission Reserve (later renamed Cherbourg Mission), a further 50 kilometres west of Widgee Station. Kathy was one of the Stolen Generation.
As a result of the hardship and intergenerational trauma that can extend from the Stolen Generation era, Tom became interested in ways to provide opportunities to and improve the economic outcomes for First Nations peoples.
‘On the tools’
Like many who successfully climb the ranks of the construction industry, Tom began his career ‘on the tools’. He started out as a painter and gradually honed his skills to become a specialist applicator. He spent many years providing renovation and refurbishment services to clients across the Northern Territory and worked on a range of sites, including remote communities. This further fuelled his desire to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples access meaningful employment.
Dundee Rock is born
In 2006, Tom founded Dundee Rock and began operating out of Darwin. Today, the company also has offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Dundee Rock offers an array of services, from demolition, asbestos removal, and painting and coating to building renovation and maintenance, plumbing and electrical services, and landscaping.
Now with a successful business, Tom was able to turn his ideas about providing opportunities to Indigenous peoples into a reality. He began assisting people from areas close to Dundee Rock’s work sites by offering mentoring, training and sustainable job opportunities. His aim was to provide people with a foot in the door, offer them support through mentoring, and encourage them to take the next step towards a meaningful career. This, he hypothesised, would lead to improved social, cultural and economic outcomes not only for individuals but also for entire communities.
The founding of DDR
DDR Australia is a majority Aboriginal-owned business, founded in 2017 as a partnership between the 100 per cent Indigenous-owned Dundee Rock and Duratec. The respective founders of these businesses, Tom Hutcheson and Phil Harcourt, worked together to build and align their visions for a new contracting and project management company. Phil was looking to provide First Nations peoples with employment and training possibilities while Tom was ready to expand his business nationally. Duratec, with its national footprint and diverse service capabilities, was the perfect partner for Dundee Rock, complementing the company’s vision and core values. The joint venture would embody a synergy of culture, quality and business acumen.
Fast forward to 2022
Today, DDR’s vision is as clear as it was five years ago when Tom and Phil embarked on the joint venture – to “enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities through long-term employment opportunities.” DDR is always looking for ways to engage with local communities and help people gain the skills, training and experience necessary for a meaningful and sustainable career in the construction industry.
As a business, DDR has gone from strength to strength, offering services across the country. While the company has earned a name for itself in Defence, it also works in the mining, government, marine and utilities sectors. And the future looks bright. DDR has all the ingredients for continued success.