Recently honoured as the 2019 Woman of the Year by the ACT government, Adelaide born Emma Sckrabei was raised in the southern suburbs, where she says she had a traditional, blue-collar upbringing. Candidly admitting she failed Year 12 Emma went to on to TAFE, where she got a Certificate III in Community Service and worked with people with unemployed youth and individuals with intellectual disabilities. She saved up and went backpacking in Europe and that led to nanny jobs in London and Boston. She also worked in children's programming and then human resources on Disney Cruise Lines, finding that job provided her with a good foundation for what was to come. She left Australia in 1994 and didn't return until 2002, at which time she began working with Renewal SA implementing a range of social inclusion initiatives on urban renewal projects such as Bowden, Riverbank Redevelopment, Tonsley, Woodville West, Port Adelaide and Playford Alive.
Here she also sat on several committees including Department of Premier and Cabinet Social Inclusion Working Group and the South Australian Training and Skills Commission.
In 2015 she was approached by Riverview Projects and in 2106 she moved to Canberra to become the driving force behind Ginninderry's Training and Employment Initiative, SPARK. Emma is a true advocate for inclusion in the constructiuon industry, ensuring all participants have the right to learn and succeed regardless of age, gender, culture or background, particularly removing barriers and stigma for women within the male-dominated construction industry. Emma recognises women in construction are a minority and works to ensure women aren’t overlooked for employment or work experience, and has achieved greater than 30% women enrolment in SPARK construction programs.
Emma’s work has been recognised through the Westfield Local Heroes and ACT NAWIC 2018 Awards where she was the recipient of the Mentor of the Year Award. Various SPARK programs and participants have also been recognised through the ACT Government Training Awards, ACT Regional Building and Construction Industry Training Council and TAFE NSW Excellence Awards.