Apr 20, 2021, 14:00 PM
GROWING up on Victoria’s French Island with a carpenter father, it wasn’t surprising that Martin and Alison Ralph were master cubbyhouse builders.
“We were constantly building cubbies in the giant pines behind our house,” remembers Ali, now 23. “I remember one cubby that was about 12 metres off the ground and five storeys high!”
Fast forward 15 years and the Ralph siblings are once again up in the trees – this time as arborists on Citywide’s Bayside contract.
It’s the first time that Citywide have had a brother and sister working in the same depot, and it’s a serendipitous story that says as much about the supportive Citywide family as the close bonds between the Ralphs.
Martin, 27, was first to join the company back in May 2018 when he signed up as an apprentice arborist at Bayside. Pretty soon he was being put through his paces in a Certificate III in Arboriculture, spending a day each week learning everything from how to operate a chainsaw to pruning, policies and powerlines.
“Straight away I knew it was the job for me,” says Martin. “I love being outdoors, working on trees, and Citywide offers all sorts of opportunities to help you climb the ladder if you show initiative and really want to learn.”
All in the family
So when team leader Josh Trevor announced a new position at Bayside in March last year, Martin knew just the person to approach.
“Ali was working in a café and looking for better opportunities,” he says. “Of course, I knew that she could pick up new skills easily and has a great work ethic. So I had no problem introducing her to the boss!”
According to Ali, growing up on French Island was the perfect testing ground for the skills required in arboriculture.
“There’s no power or piped water on the island, so you have to be pretty self-sufficient,” she says. “We spent a lot of time digging trenches for dad, looking after livestock, fixing up the generator. You learn to be pretty handy!”
Ali was 20 when Martin – the second of four siblings – started working for Citywide, and she remembers how positively her big brother spoke of his new ‘gig’. So when he announced an opening at Bayside, she was quick to react.
“I gave Josh a call and arrived here a week before the first COVID lockdown,” recalls Ali. “My first role was operating a chipper and after some initial training I was in.”
Ali says she hasn’t looked back. “I really enjoy the work. I was only on the chipper for a few months, then went into training for broader roles. I got my chainsaw ticket, my EWP (Elevated Work Platform) licence, my ESI Certificate II (Powerline and Vegetation Control).”
Ali says that although arboriculture still has the image of “a blokey job”, she’s been quietly delighted by the culture on the Bayside trees crew.
“There are 16 of us and I’m the only girl,” she says. “But I have to say, everyone is really respectful. If they ever crossed any boundaries, I’d certainly let them know about it – but so far, I haven’t had to!”
Simon Mossman - Group Corporate Communications
M 0427 307 216