Workskil's Work for the Dole program provides purpose for job seekers

Hard yakka: Workskil Australia Work for the Dole project supervisor Dave Cooper lends 35-year-old job seeker Cameron a hand at Blackbutt Reserve. Picture: Georgia Osland

Hard yakka: Workskil Australia Work for the Dole project supervisor Dave Cooper lends 35-year-old job seeker Cameron a hand at Blackbutt Reserve. Picture: Georgia Osland

FOR ordinary people like Cameron*, the chance to contribute to the community while unemployed is priceless.

The 35-year-old Hamilton North resident is one of about 400 people in the Hunter participating in the Work for the Dole program through not-for-profit organisation Workskil Australia.

It is a government requirement that eligible job seekers registered with a jobactive provider participate in the program for six months each year to receive income support payments. Workskil is one of those providers.

With nine offices in the Hunter, including Newcastle, Mayfield and Toronto, the organisation places job seekers in community projects and provides them with employment opportunities to meet the demands of the workforce.

The organisation is new to the area, having only set up shop in July. But already it is having a positive impact on the area’s unemployed.

Cameron has been part of the program for about five months.

A labourer by trade, he had been unemployed for about a year after he was laid off due to a lull in business.

He works two days a week and spends the rest of the week at the Newcastle office working on his resume and applying for jobs.

Cameron has participated mostly in outdoor projects, such as groundskeeping at Blackbutt Reserve and conservation projects at Dixon Park, Stockton Beach and Bar Beach.

“I love it,” he said. “It keeps me busy and there’s so much to learn.”

However, Workskil’s projects aren’t restricted to the outdoors; it also offers opportunities at the other end of the scale, such as administration work and graphic design.

The projects are on a 26-week rotation.

Project supervisor Dave Cooper said about a third of participants went on to find permanent employment.

“Everyone’s a winner – the community, the council, and guys like Cameron who get experience in real workplace situations, especially if they’ve been unemployed for a while and they’re a bit rusty,” Mr Cooper said.

“We all believe people who get payments should be doing something to earn it, and if we can use it as a vehicle to find employment then that’s great.”

Cameron has applied and interviewed for a few jobs, but is still actively looking for work. Mr Cooper said with his skills, he should find work in no time.

*Cameron did not wish to print his surname.

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