Disadvantaged residents gain skills

Article image - Disadvantaged residents gain skills Given the Chance trainee Dan with Citywide operations supervisor Simon Smith, Brotherhood of St Laurence field support coordinator Elisabeth Bhatia and team leader Daniel Stark.

Melton City Council in Victoria is championing efforts to help disadvantaged residents secure jobs, gain skills and develop career paths while delivering its outdoor services.

Seven trainees are currently being provided personal support and on-the-job training to help them succeed in the workforce under Given the Chance, a program partnered by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the infrastructure and open space services contractor Citywide.

Given the Chance is designed to support and build on the skills of job seekers who have struggled to find stable employment competing in the open labour market.

The program delivers on the Council’s commitment to inclusion by adopting new social procurement guidelines and creating more stable local employment opportunities.

Mayor Sophie Ramsey said Melton City Council was proud to mandate social procurement as part of local employment initiatives in its rapidly growing communities.

“Social procurement involves using local government’s purchasing power to generate positive social outcomes while delivering efficient goods, services and works.

“We are dedicated to providing meaningful employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged job seekers to build a stronger community across the City of Melton.

“Council also achieves greater value for money across the community over the longer term by using a locally-based workforce.”

Contractors tendering for the City of Melton’s business in road construction and maintenance, and parks and gardening services were asked to provide at least 10 per cent of local disadvantaged people with jobs.

Citywide secured two new Council service contracts for parks maintenance services, and road and drainage maintenance service.
Given the Chance has now been running nine months at Melton City Council with Citywide hiring five trainees in its horticulture and parks maintenance crews. Two more trainees joined civil construction crews working in roads and drains maintenance.

At a recent celebration hosted by Council, Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director Tony Nicholson praised the commitment of participants, trainers and program partners.

“Melton Council is demonstrating leadership and Citywide is showing outstanding commitment to the program,” he said. “By delivery of services in the City of Melton you can do more than simply contribute to employment. You bring hope.

“Over the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s 85 years we have learned that the best way you can help disadvantaged people is to help them get a job and a career pathway.

“There are national implications of what can be achieved by Councils championing similar programs.”

Executive - Victorian Operations at Citywide Matthew Whelan said his company took its responsibility and the opportunities under social procurement guidelines seriously.

“Good partners and good people enable us to do it. Our services contract with Melton City Council led to 70 new jobs and no less than 10 per cent of people employed in this program.

“After these seven trainees complete their first 12 months with Citywide we hope to bring them on to become long-term employees.”
Other interested Victorian councils are encouraged to explore how they might get involved in successful Given the Chance programs similar to those in the Cities of Melton, Yarra and Melbourne.