Experience leads to empowerment

Work for the Dole can be a daunting possibility for those on Newstart Allowance.  At Centacare Employment, the benefits for job seekers far outweigh the nerves or hesitation they may have before commencing.

Centacare Work for the Dole Supervisor George reflects on the outcomes of Work for the Dole for participants. “My work for the dole troops get a sense of self-worth and belonging.  It gives them a purpose, drive and some ownership over what they are doing.  They really get a buzz out of seeing what they have achieved at the end of each day,” said George.  

Twenty job seekers of varying ages participate in the project over six months. The project extends job seekers giving them responsibility to turn up to work on time, gain practical skills and experience while giving back to the community.

“After about four to six weeks people start to open up and come out of their shell.  They start to enjoy the social interaction of work and many form a strong network and friendships that last outside the project,” said George.

Centacare’s Ballarat Cemeteries Project runs across both Ballarat’s old and new cemeteries. The work undertaken by participants includes landscaping, the creation of restful gardens and walkways, maintenance of existing gardens, and the restoration of graves of social and historical significance.

Under the Cemeteries projects, Centacare’s Work for the Dole participants have completed a number of projects including the Birdsong Walk at the New Cemetery, new seating and quiet areas,  and are currently laying the finishing touches to a Memorial Garden.  A Work for the Dole participant has also been involved in a research project to develop a walking trail of the graves of key figures in Ballarat’s history, for local people and tourists to explore.

“It’s not always easy being the Work for the Dole Supervisor and juggling such a diverse and interesting group. Some don’t want to be there but I treat everyone equally with dignity and respect and I understand what they all are going through,” said George.

One Work for the Dole participant who stood out for George was a young worker with an Acquired Brain Injury. “At first he was very reluctant to even just turn up, he was very reserved. After a couple of weeks he just started turning up early, grabbed his equipment and got to work. When he didn’t turn up one day I was concerned but then I received a phone call from him telling me he was at paid work and now he has an apprenticeship with his employer. It’s such a positive outcome,” said George.