“I Just Want to Work” a Resource Kit for community service organisations

The Resource Kit was launched on Monday, 9 September 2013.

John Bonnice, Cath Smith , Jenny Lauritsen, Robyn Roberts

John Bonnice, Cath Smith , Jenny Lauritsen, Robyn Roberts

The Resource Kit, developed by the O’Sullivan Centre in partnership with Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service and with the support of St Luke’s Anglicare, was launched by Cath Smith, currently Director of Social Performance at Futureye and former CEO of VCOSS.

The Resource Kit aims to support community service organisations who wish to build practical responses to unemployment among clients and to increase vocational outcomes.

The Resource Kit contains:

  • Four workshops—two for managers and two for workers.
  • Purpose and outcomes statements for each workshop.
  • A timed agenda for each workshop.
  • Facilitator’s Notes for each workshop.
  • Handout masters for each workshop.
  • Further reflection and reading—including background to the development of the Resource Kit and the methodology used.

Robyn Roberts CEO Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service

It gives me great pleasure to be here today for the launch of ‘I just want to go to work’.  GSYFS has been a keen partner in this project led by the O’Sullivan Centre. Supporting the O’Sullivan Centre in the development of this resource kit is a natural partnership for Good Shepherd.

Most of you here will know Good Shepherd and about our commitment to working with the most disadvantaged people in our community.  But we are not simply about being charitable, we are about justice and change.  Good Shepherd’s mission urges us to ‘embrace wholeheartedly innovative and creative ways of enabling people…to enjoy the fullness of life, which is the right of every human being’.   We all know that working, holding down paid employment is a key to obtaining that fullness of life… through enabling individuals to be  financially independent; to contribute in a way that is valued by society and in turn;  to be valued as a human being

When asked by the O’Sullivan Centre to trial the tools for workers and managers, found in the resource kit, I jumped at the chance for Good Shepherd to be involved. For me the connection between work-dignity- and fullness of life is tangible and strong.  Denis Sheehan, Peter Gartlan and John Bonnice patiently explained that the tools being trialled would become part of a resource kit that would encourage community workers to think about their practice and have the conversation about work with individuals and families they see. The kit would provide tools that would equip workers for these important conversations.

Good Shepherd went ahead trialling the tools with our workers in the western suburbs and then our managers.  I must say though that there was some initial reluctance of a few workers (and managers) to participate. I think this was due to feeling like this wasn’t their area of expertise or their job – it was someone else’s.  One or two people found it hard to see the link with their work.  How could they have a conversation about work when people presented with such complex and entrenched issues?

We persisted though, recognising that employment was very much part of the conversation with the people we see and an important one at that.  The sessions were well received by our staff and it was these initial trials that assisted in the development of the kit we are here to launch today. I’m pleased to say that our experience supporting this project over the years has been mutually beneficial and has  contributed to our thinking internally about sustainable pathways out of poverty for disadvantaged people.

A fortnight ago two colleagues and I had the fortune to go on a study tour to the US to investigate the work of several organisations who focus upon the economic self-sufficiency of individuals as a way to help them and their families move out of poverty and intergenerational disadvantage.  In these organisations an ongoing ‘employment conversation’ with people is second nature. It’s a focus, regarded as one of the key domains in a person’s life and a feature of their work.    My takeaway from our experience is that a pathway out of poverty and intergenerational disadvantage can be achieved through people attaining a sense of agency and economic mobility in their lives….and it is employment that creates this opportunity.

So congratulations to the O’Sullivan Centre team for this fantastic resource kit.

Once again it has been wonderful to have been able to support this initiative and I do hope the kit will make a difference in the way community workers work with people and ultimately hope that it might support a conversation that may be life changing.

For further information about the Kit
Contact John Bonnice St Luke’s Anglicare 0419 330 799

PO Box 3046, Ivanhoe North, Vic 3079

The O’Sullivan Centre seeks donations and funding to develop resources that enhance the social and economic participation of people who are disadvantaged in the labour market. In Timor-Leste we support health, employment and community education projects that are initiated by young people aged 18-24 through their new organisation Juventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasional (JDN). One-off donations as well as monthly contributions can be made using PayPal