How we’ve become a vital part of our community
When Melbourne man Fred Phillips was on one of his daily walks, he noticed groups of young unemployed people. Believing he could make a difference to their situation, Fred set to work approaching senior executives of companies in his local community urging them to become an employment coach.
Fred then sourced participants from local schools, asking teachers and staff to nominate students who might find seeking employment a difficult task, including those who found learning difficult. Fred then referred these young people to his coaches. Within three months Fred had secured employment for 58 young people.
A committee of ten local business members was then formed and in March 1979, with Government funding, Bridging the Gap (BTG) was created.
In time, the number of coaches and participating companies increased, and thousands of young people were now earning a regular income. People from different backgrounds, cultures and ages were being assisted by BTG in their search for employment.
As a result of this success, BTG aimed to open 12 other offices around the country – including four in Perth. Fred even opened an office in Slough, England!
It was about the same time, in 1986 that JobLink took shape. JobLink assist people with career decisions, job applications and other employment related issues. The term job-linking refers to the strategy of using people who have pre-existing established networks to help people who do not have established social networks.
JobLink was administered through approximately forty four community-based organisations. An initiative of the WA Government, now there are 39 JobLink projects in the State.
Peter Kenyon, with the help of Molly Quinn set about creating BTG in Rockingham/ Kwinana, located in Medina.
Under the State Employment Assistance Strategy (SEAS), we helped prepare resumes for clients and advocated for them with employers to gain work experience. In 1996 due to a steadily increasing client base, part of the operations was moved to Lotteries House in Rockingham.
Funded by the Department of Employment and Training of the Western Australian Government under its Skills West umbrella, we were also supported by the Rockingham and Kwinana councils, a number of local employers and service groups like the Rotary, Lions and Apex Clubs.
In 1999 we joined Job Futures Ltd, a national group of non-profit organisations working collaboratively. At the time, Job Futures was the only provider of Green Corps in the country, meaning we were able to offer environmental programs to our client base.
By 2000 we were providing a record number of services and moved to new premises at Hunsdon House, Rockingham. We won the tender for the JobSearch training contract, which included job-matching, and providing jobseekers with the facilities and knowledge to gain full time employment. Although initially assisting 200 individuals, we expanded the program to support over 400 clients.
In 2001 we ran a major program for 25 students at risk of substance abuse for the Australian National Training Authority, an arm of the Federal Government. Positive Pathways was again implemented as a 20-week course for at-risk youth. Funded by Safer WA and the Lotteries Commission (Gordon Reid Foundation), Positive Pathways enabled young people to develop the kind of skills needed for meaningful employment.
This program ran in conjunction with Positive Choices, an accredited “Life Skills” program concentrating on personal development offered to clients of all ages, in addition to Career Builder, a computer based career counselling tool allowing clients to explore possible career directions most suited to their interests and skills.
By 2002 we were successful in winning a contract to offer the Career and Transition Pilot Program funded by the Federal Government, Department of Education, Science and Training. The pilot program gathered information regarding the career goals and education of local year 8 and 9 students in order to help them define career goals and prepare for job search activities.
In keeping with the values and philosophy of its originator, to this day we maintain close links with the community.
Since 2003 we have continued to expand and build on our programs to continue to deliver services to jobseekers, at-risk youth, unemployed, disadvantaged and disenfranchised from our offices located in Mandurah, Fremantle and Armadale.
In 2020 we opened a Containers for Change depot in Port Kennedy, a venture that not only benefits our environment, but also provides jobs for our local community.
While the names of our programs may have changed, the goal and end result of our efforts remains the same and we continue to work closely with major community stakeholders to specifically target issues affecting our local communities.
We provide these and other programs to meet and uphold our vision to empower people and build communities through self sufficiency, social inclusion, practical training and enhanced employment opportunities.