Staff Training… workshops make a difference

Report on economic and Social participation workshops for staff of South East Community Links

July 1, 2016

The current focus of the work of The O’Sullivan Centre has been the issue of youth unemployment. It is very concerning that over 14% of 15 to 19 year olds are unemployed; impacting on youth employment participation rates is the high level of disengagement in education and training amongst young people. According to the 2010 Budget Papers around 360,000 young Australians have not obtained at least a Year 12 or Certificate 2 qualification and are not engaged in education or training.

To enable a contribution to addressing the issue of youth unemployment, The O’Sullivan Centre has embarked on a project aimed at supporting community welfare organisations to place greater emphasis on educational and employment outcomes for young people (and adults) as part of their provision of welfare and support services. The project centres on developing a training and action package that can be utilised by welfare agencies to develop practical strategies and actions to improve the educational and employment outcomes for the people engaged with their services. The first trial of the package was conducted recently with Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service (GSYFS) in Melbourne. Feedback from the workers who participated was that the training was challenging and helped them practically think about how to achieve employment outcomes.

A follow up workshop was conducted with GSYFS two months later. From this work the training/action package will be further developed. We are looking to run a second pilot in another agency in 2011 so we can refine the process that we use.

This work can make a positive contribution to supporting welfare agencies to develop a greater focus on achieving employment outcomes amongst service users. There is growing interest in the project from other welfare agencies as many organistions are now seeing the need to focus on employment participation as a key direction in the provision of welfare and support services.

We have been fortunate to have Denis Sheehan available to work part time on The O’Sullivan Centre employment project and Denis’s work has enabled us to significantly progress the project over the past 12 months. Many thanks to Denis for his work and dedication to this project.

The O’Sullivan Centre members have met in Healesville (Melbourne) and Canberra this year with members from Adelaide, Melbourne, Bendigo, Sydney and Canberra. At these meetings we review the progress on the employment project and plan our activities for the next 6 months.

The employment project is at a critical stage in its completion and we do need more funding to maintain Denis’s employment. So any financial contribution to The O’Sullivan Centre and/or renewing your membership would be greatly appreciated.


Anna’s story

In an interview with Anna, she talked about when she was out of work for 6 years she suffered from depression and heroin addiction. She has been working again now as a cleaner for 8 years. Her work history prior to being out of work was as a nurse and then in retail where she managed a couple of clothing stores. Anna also worked as a picture framer, a job that she loved and would like to get back to.

1. How did you first get a job again?

I was helped by the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service when they had a lot of money to assist with finding jobs. They found a job for me for two weeks, I did not know if I could work a full day at the time. But I did and at the then the job was ongoing for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months they offered me a job ongoing. I was totally poor at the time so I did not tell Centrelink and stayed on the benefit (DSP) until I could get enough money for clothes and to get to work and pay off my bills.

2. What other jobs have you had?

I had a good work history. I trained as a nurse and then left it vowing never to go back. Then I worked in retail, managing a couple of shops. Then I got a job as a picture framer that I loved and would like to go back to.

3. What have been the issues for you in working from welfare to work?

Methadone pick up. When you are working fulltime, you don’t have time to go to the Chemist for the pick up. Also you are only allowed 3 pick ups a week and my third one is Thursday afternoon. By then I am hanging out and my mood changes so that people start to notice. Then because I can’t sleep on Thursday, I am in a real bad way on Friday. People start to comment and ask questions. It is still an issue now.

I wasn’t prepared for your average conversation in the work place. I found myself talking about prostitution and people I knew and that shocked everyone. I did not know how to hang out in the mainstream.

I am still living below the poverty line because of the low wage for cleaners. It is better for your head, you feel like you are paying your own way and you are part of society. I am a social person and I like to be part of things. But it is still a long way from the job I would like to have, because I have been cleaning for 8 years, it is difficult to get another job, people think that is all you can do and the older I get the harder it is. It is good to have a job but I feel caught in it. I keep applying for other jobs but do no success.

4. Describe the role of the welfare staff and/or employment staff in assisting you or not.

The CRS were great they wanted you to be there and they looked at all the possibilities. I remember they paid for a gym membership, because they thought it would help. The Mission was great as I probably would not have eaten if it was not there, but it was not helpful to hang out with the same crowd all the time.

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