Team spirit recognition for Given the Chance worker

15 July 2019

When Erick first got in touch with the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Given the Chance team, he had no job, no food and was frantically worried about how he would support his young family.

Just over a year later, Programmed, a managed workforce provider, has recognised his work ethic, team-building skills and leadership qualities with an excellence award.

Erick has been working as a gas filler at Elgas in Dandenong since April 2018 – thanks to support from our Given the Chance (Jobs Victoria) program.

Erick came to Australia from Kenya in 2017 to make a better life, but finding work wasn’t easy. He had been working as a karate and sports instructor in Nairobi.

‘I did not want to go to Centrelink, but there was not a lot of work. I found it difficult,’ says Erick.

With support from Given the Chance employee engagement manager Phillip Knight, Erick learned about Australian workplace culture, resume writing and interview preparation and put together a resume.

‘The people I’m working with at Elgas are very friendly and welcoming. I am learning new skills- things I would not be learning back home,’ he says.

‘Given the Chance gave me hope, when I was running out of hope,’ says Erick.

He is on a Bridging Visa A (BVA) visa while he awaits a more permanent visa and residency.

Phillip explains that employers also get tailored support when they hire a Given the Chance participant.

‘We talk with employers to understand their business and employment needs. We advocate for jobseekers and connect suitable candidates with them. Once they’re hired, we follow up and support employers and the newly placed worker while they transition into their new job.

Programmed account manager Cassandra Quinlan said Erick stood out as a great employee.

‘He goes above and beyond and takes a lot of pride in his work.

‘The feedback we had about Erick was that he’s a strong team player who looks after new people coming in. It is a pleasure to be able to recognise his contribution.’

Find out more about Given the Chance Jobs Victoria program

‘This is the first foyer evaluation to present rigorous evidence of sustained, beneficial impacts,’ says Professor Shelley Mallet, Director of the Brotherhood’s Research and Policy Centre.

A report by Professor Mallett and Brotherhood researchers, Marion Coddou and Joseph Borlagdan, finds many benefits in key areas, including:

EFY Foyers developed young people’s living skills and supported them to access decent housing.

Big improvements in their housing independence at exit further improved a year later. The percentage living in their own place (renting or owning) increased from 7% at entry to 43% at exit, and to 51% a year later. Meanwhile, the percentage sleeping rough or living in crisis accommodation, treatment centres or detention declined from 32% at entry to 3% at exit, and to 2% a year later.

EFY Foyers enabled young people to pursue education qualifications necessary for sustainable employment. In total, about 70% of participants had either achieved a higher qualification or were still enrolled a year after exit. Of those who had not completed a higher education qualification, 70% were still enrolled a year after exit.

EFY Foyer staff created opportunities for young people to find internships, work experience, mentors and jobs aligned with their goals and plans. In the year after exit, about 85% of participants worked or studied. The percentage of participants employed, including in part-time or casual work, increased from 19% at entry to 31% at exit and 36% a year later.

Brotherhood Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg says to build skills and opportunity and spark hope in young people experiencing homelessness, an ambitious, new approach was needed.

‘Homelessness is more than just rooflessness, it deprives people of skills and strengths and represents the ebbing away of opportunity and hope in their lives. The evidence is in - this new approach works.’