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.