WorkingStart!

Ask:

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello:

  • Fund a pilot of an Employment Support Worker to work in Glebe and surrounding suburbs for three years at a cost of approximately $150,000 per year;
  • Contribute funding to an evaluation of this innovation at a one off cost of approximately $50,000;
  • Champion the expansion of Employment Support Workers in cabinet so the role can be expanded to other communities;
  • The total cost of this is $450,000 over three years.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Sydney Alliance working on this?

A:

We have had thousands of conversations across Sydney about challenges people are facing, and a clear theme has been that young people, particularly people from migrant or disadvantaged backgrounds often feel excluded from the opportunities of Sydney.

Through research we identified that creating pathways to good jobs – careers – is the best strategy for creating a pathway to social inclusion. In Glebe, we put this to work and negotiated with Mirvac to create apprenticeships for local Aboriginal young people who live in the Glebe Housing Estate.

The Working Start program, and the need for “employment support workers”, that go ‘beyond’ the job network provider model, came out of this experience. We found that to create these jobs and to keep young people who have faced serious disadvantage in jobs, that it was necessary to have a “community facing” support worker.

We know there are many job providers and training programs. There are also a lot of organisations that broker relationships with employers to create jobs for Aboriginal people. But, there are few organsiations that broker relationships to create employment inside a local community.

Yet, we found in Glebe that keeping young people who experience serious disadvantage in a job required working with a trusted and skilled community worker. In Glebe, it was a person who had known the young people for a decade, working in an organisation with a 30 year history in the community who was able to provide the holistic support that ensured the young people were able to successfully keep their jobs over the long term.

The employment support worker helps the young person broker the transition to employment, and problem solve if issues arise in the early years of employment. It is well documented (see Dr George Morgan) that a number of ‘pull back’ factors can exist. These factors can range from mental health issues, negative peer influence, family breakdown or simple a lack of confidence and knowledge when it comes to things we take for granted such as securing a house in the private rental market. 

The Sydney Alliance will negotiate with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to support the creation and a pilot of an employment support worker in Glebe, where we have already established a jobs pathway, and then to evaluate and expand this role to other communities of need that we have identified – such as in Granville with Granville Boys High, in Bankstown and in Blacktown.

Is this achievable?

A:

We think so – for a few reasons.

  1. It’s missing and it's wanted – this idea is really needed, and our experience in Glebe has proven it. At the Harold Park Development two young Aboriginal men have been successfully employed in apprenticeships for a year using this approach. But there is not enough money to make it any bigger. Employers like Mirvac and Lend Lease want to work with us to help create more job pathways for young people but the barrier to expanding is that we don’t have sufficient resources to help the young people to be successful - yet.....
  2. The state government knows this is important – the state government have done a year long review of indigenous affairs and have begun transforming how they work with Aboriginal young people to create pathways to work; to support strong Aboriginal Communities in which Aboriginal people actively:
       * Support more Aboriginal young people to get jobs that are fulfilling and sustainable.
       * Grow local Aboriginal leaders’ and communities’ capacity to drive their own solutions.
       * Focus on creating opportunities for economic empowerment.
  3. We are doing an evaluation to provide evidence of how good WorkingStart! is – the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs have said they want evidence based approaches to social policy. We have enlisted Dr George Morgan from University of Western Sydney, an expert on indigenous pathways to employment, to provide an independent evaluation of what we have done already. We are adopting an Outcomes Base Framework to collect data and monitor and evaluate this initiative
  4. Other stakeholders can see it is important – we have met with the Aboriginal Employment Service, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and TAFE NSW – who have all recognised that the role of a community facing employment support worker could be a missing link in supporting at-risk young people into stable employment.

How much will it cost?

A:

Over three years we are asking for $500 000 to fund a pilot of a support workers in Glebe for three years and an evaluation of the project. 

How will this effect tax-payers and everyday people?

A:

For those from disadvantaged communities and those with a sense of justice and opportunity – this campaign is about helping more people access the power, dignity and self-respect that comes from having a good job. 

For your average tax-payer it aims to reduce long term unemployment and the social problems associated with unemployment, like crime and poor health outcomes. It’s a prevention strategy – meaning that we aim to help young people transition to be self-supporting and not needing to rely on unemployment benefits or finding themselves making self-destructive choices.

It is about making communities safer by making a job a ready option. Eventually we aim to transform communities like Glebe, where employment becomes a far more widespread aspiration.

This issue seems small – is it?

A:

What does your job mean to you? What kind of role does it play in your life? Work is often the most significant determinant of your sense of self, well-being and self-esteem.

But the pathway to work isn’t easy for some. Despite the “programs and training” that is out there, there is often a missing gap – having someone help you through the maze. We are asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to provide that helping hand to a group of people who have significant needs. Who are unlikely to be successful in keeping their jobs and turning it into a career without support.

The measure of success is the transformation of each persons’ life and the reverberation that this success then has in creating roll models in the wider community.

Who else supports this issue?

A:

Our greatest supporters are the employers we work with and those employers who want to work with us. Good Corporate Citizens like Mirvac, Harris Farm and Lend Lease want to provide opportunities for disadvantaged communities as part of their commitment to social responsibility, but they often struggle to make that aspiration work. We step into that gap and provide employers with a steady point of contact that they can turn to if they need to manage any challenges that come up at work.

Community leaders like Linda O’Brien, the Principal of Granville Boys High, Fr Peter Confeggi, the Priest at St Patricks in Blacktown, and Jomana Harris the President of the United Muslim Women’s Association from Bankstown are eager for the pilot in Glebe to be funded and evaluated to see if it can be expanded to their communities.

In Glebe there is widespread support for the expansion of the program. Inspired by the success of the two apprentices at the Mirvac Harold Park development, many young people on a daily basis come to Glebe Youth Service and ask staff;  ‘Can you help me get a job please!?’ Beyond this the program has support from the Glebe Chamber of Commerce,  a range of community groups and organisations that operate in Glebe. Also the Local MP, Jamie Parker Member for Balmain is prepared to champion the issue, and, of course the families of young people who would like nothing more than to see their children, their brother and sisters secure and retain a job.

How does it work?

A:

The Sydney Alliance has been using its community networks to create job opportunities for young people who face disadvantage. But we have found that to do this successfully, we need to partner with an organisation who has the community trust and the know how to support those young workers in that journey.

The new role – the “employment support worker” – would enable us to  significantly expand the job creation strategy that we have begun in Glebe. We could expand it to surrounding communities and we would aim to place around dozens of young people into jobs and support them to keep them, over a three year period.

At the same time, we would work with the young people who secure jobs to act as leaders and peer mentors in their local community – inspiring others to consider what kind of career they want.

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