Greater Shepparton City Council and the Brotherhood of St Laurence bring opportunities when needed the most

There was no predicting the impacts of COVID-19 when it came into our lives last year, no expectation for the sudden lockdowns of businesses, interstate borders shutting and international travel ceasing. The dramatic changes came suddenly, leaving many of us in an uncertain climate.

As the impact of Covid-19 began to threaten local industries, Greater Shepparton City Council (Council) realised the need to sustain employment opportunities for the community and were proactive in preparing their successful bid to the State Government for 184 full time equivalent roles with funding of $8,872,430.49 ex GST under the Working for Victoria (WFV) program. The WFV funding application process required contribution across all Council directorates to rapidly identify at risk internal roles whose employment would be disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions; in addition to creating a wide range of indoor and outdoor roles to fulfil demand from the wider Greater Shepparton community whose gainful employment was impacted due to the slow down experienced across various industries.

Many Greater Shepparton community members holding bridging visas and asylum seekers were left stranded, having travelled interstate and overseas for harvest work. Stuck with no option, many sought the help of The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) an organisation that assists Victorian jobseekers to acquire a job. Participants are supported by the Work and Learning Centres (WLC) throughout the recruitment process and beyond, providing additional training and support required to secure a job.

Greater Shepparton City Council worked closely with BSL Work and Learning Centres and Jobs Victoria, providing an opportunity to participants to gain employment through funded roles during COVID-19. These short term roles at Council enabled participants to develop the skills and knowledge to gain additional employment once their appointment ended. Participants needed to be registered and linked with Working for Victoria so that they could be considered for roles that were available.

The partnership enabled 21 WLC participants to successfully gain employment with Greater Shepparton City Council in a diverse range of roles within Civic Presentation, Parks, Compliance, Native Open Space, Building Maintenance and Tree Planting.

In addition to the opportunity to sustain an income during COVID-19 it also allowed participants to gain valuable credentials and experience creating a more positive prospect for employment post the pandemic.

Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe said “Greater Shepparton City Council acted quickly and were proactive in applying for and gaining funding for a significant program. Council are proud of the major support this provided and to be involved with such a great initiative. We have seen our community come together during this pandemic, and we have sadly seen community members and businesses suffer. This initiative provided much needed hope to community members that were unable to find work. The outcomes from the program are impressive and can be seen across our municipality. We have seen projects and maintenance works undertaken that would have otherwise needed to be completed and funded by Council. These works have extended across the municipality, including our small towns.

Working at Council has made a tremendous difference, one participant Yusron (Ron) Yusoff said “being able to work while borders were closed relieved a lot stress for myself and my family. At the start of the pandemic I was worried we would end up homeless and stuck in Shepparton with no work. This opportunity has made a difference to our future”.

After two years of service Ron was laid off his factory role due to COVID-19. Ron was ineligible for JobKeeper as he was on a bridging visa with work rights, it was important for Ron to find work to support his family and he referred himself to WLC. The program assisted Ron to update his resume and cover letter and he registered for labour hire services. Ron was motivated and continued to follow up on all leads provided by his advisor in the effort to search for new employment.

Being linked with Working for Victoria connected Ron to job roles available at Council, Ron obtained an interview as a Parks Officer and with some preparation was successful. Ron built up his experience and knowledge within the role and was promoted to Team Leader within six months.

Greater Shepparton City Council and BSL WLC relationship has been infused by the calibre of participants the program has provided to Council, enabling Ron to secure employment and 21 other participants an opportunity to work and develop their skills and knowledge.


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