For Australian jobseekers, finding work can be tough. It is not always a question of whether they want to work, but rather a matter of not being able to find work.
When Lachie St Clair, Operations Coordinator at Kensington Community and Recreation Centre, came across the Work for the Dole program, he knew it could make an impact on the community, as well as his centre.
Lachie had recently participated in the YMCA Future Leaders program and was looking for a new way to make a difference in his community when he stumbled upon the initiative.
Not soon after Lachie successfully convinced his managers to pilot the program, Paul, a former carpenter, began working fifteen hours a week at KCRC as part of the Work for the Dole program.
Paul was struggling to find work after a 20 year hiatus from the workforce, during which he singlehandedly raised his seven children.
Paul obviously leads a very busy and hectic life, and reflecting over the first two months of the program, Lachie admits that he could be a bit hit-or-miss.
“He worked hard but we had days where he wouldn’t turn up, offering no warning or explanation.”
Lachie’s leadership in working through these issues and explaining to Paul what was expected of him has been truly exemplary.
While Paul had legitimate reasons to not show up to work, being out of the workforce for such a long time required him to need a few prompts and some patience, which is just what Lachie showed him.
Recognising that a sense of belonging was important to Paul, Lachie also gave him a YMCA uniform to wear to work and noticed an immediate shift in Paul’s attitude.
“He felt like part of the team. Everyone would ask him about his weekend and get excited when a task came up that could be assigned to Paul, rather than a contractor,” said Lachie.
“Paul is now the fastest worker I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t leave until a job is finished, needs no supervision and stops working only to identify new tasks that need to be completed. His confidence levels have soared and the centre is looking fantastic.”
Recently, Paul’s daughter attended the centre as part of her primary school’s swimming program. Having spotted her father, she proudly pointed him out to her friends and teachers, demonstrating the positive impact the program has had on Paul’s family.
Paul’s placement will end in May and Lachie says at the very least, Paul will leave with a glowing reference.
“The program has been an absolute success and I would gladly take another participant in the future,” said Lachie.
“Many of the people enrolled in the program are skilled university graduates who are unable to get into the workforce,” he says, adding that the experience has been extremely positive for everyone involved and would definitely recommend the program to others.