Tradeswoman Profile – Lil Shanley

Lil is a driven, multi-talented trainee in mining, who has also completed her apprenticeship in Fire Protection. Lil kindly shared her time and experience in working in both industries with us recently:


Thanks so much for agreeing to share your story. Tell us a bit about your background leading up to undertaking an apprenticeship

I completed Year 12 through Corpus Christi College, now known as Mary McKillop College. I went on to complete an apprenticeship as a fire sprinkler fitter (Certificate III in Fire Protection) and am now undertaking a traineeship through a Certificate II in Underground Mining.


Looking at your background, you’ve completed a bevy of qualifications already!

Yes – my VCE, Cert’s II and III in Fire Protection, a Cert IV in Fire Systems Compliance, Diploma in Project Management and now my Cert II.


It’s impressive that you’re so driven to continued learning. Tell us more about your decision to choose an apprenticeship after completing Year 12.

An apprenticeship was really appealing to me because I wanted a practical occupation. I enjoy solving practical problems and working with my hands.


Your story seems to be quite similar to other tradeswomen we’ve interviewed – you were steered towards university rather than a trade

Yes, the apprenticeship was much more appealing to me than university. I searched for an occupation that didn’t involve university and an office job, but I was strongly encouraged to go to uni straight after high school. I knew it wasn’t for me. 


So tell us more about your journey into fire safety.

My particular trade appealed to me because I have a keen interest in fire safety. I was looking into electrical and plumbing apprenticeships when I came across the fire sprinkler fitter apprenticeship. I didn’t even know it was a trade! It immediately appealed to me. There was only one other female working as a sprinkler fitter in Queensland at the time and it is a very tight industry to get into so to help with job applications I did a weeks’ work experience with a fire company in Brisbane. Luckily I was offered an apprenticeship with them at the end of that week. After completing my apprenticeship I worked for a company doing FIFO work inspecting and maintaining fire systems on mine sites in Central Queenslands’ Bowen Basin.


And then you transitioned into mining

Although I loved my sprinkler fitter job and the fire protection industry very much, after 12 years I felt the need to challenge myself and learn new things. I believe you should continually grow and challenge yourself in your career. As a female tradie, I really looked up to and was in awe of female underground miners every time I saw them on sites, although it was a rare occurrence.. I stepped out of my comfort zone and successfully applied for Anglo American’s ground-breaking ‘Balancing the Team’ program at Moranbah North underground metallurgical coal mine, to complete an underground mining traineeship. This program was designed by Anglo American to encourage more women to pursue careers in underground mining. I started this traineeship at the end of 2019.


Were you able to utilise your previous skills in your new career?

I like all the new things I am learning and the way that they tie in with my previous experience working in the fire protection industry and expand upon my skillset. There are many similarities, but I am also learning so many new things and challenging myself more than I expected to.


What are the best aspects working in underground mining?

I love being able to train on and operate the underground mining equipment. I never knew it would be so much fun driving around in underground tunnels in a 22 tonne articulated loader. There is always some new piece of equipment to learn to operate. I also love the days off that I get working a FIFO roster. It’s a great work/life balance.


It sounds fantastic. So, from all your experience as a fire sprinkler fitter and now working in mining, what advice would you like to pass on to future tradeswomen?

Absolutely do it! I have never once regretted it. Plus, you get paid to learn and there is no HECS debt at the end of it. And if you are a female tradie thinking about changing things up and challenging yourself, then absolutely do that too. It was a huge decision for me to take on an underground mining traineeship after 12 years working in my trade, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t and life is about taking risks.


What are your long term goals in the mining industry?

I see myself working within the mining industry in a fire and safety compliance role.


If you get spare time outside of work, what do you like doing with yourself?

Travel, fishing, cooking low and slow BBQ, napping and playing with my dog Barney.



TWA pass on many thanks for Lil in sharing her amazing journey so far – we really look forward to touching base in the future to see where her career has taken her. 


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