powder coater Ben Chambers is an example of how individuals can overcome difficulty to succeed, according to the head of a group that gave him a hand up.
The benefits of employment are becoming clear for Mr Chambers, who’s been working at Orange Powder Coating since January this year after finding the job through the Indigenous Employer Program.
“I can set myself goals now because I can afford to,” Mr Chambers said yesterday.
“I’ve gained my forklift licence and my learner’s licence and I’ve also bought a car.
“It [work] has had a lot of positive effects on my life and I can better provide for my kids who are both less than two years old.”
Mr Chambers has managed to succeed in the workforce at a time when others still struggle.
Closing the gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australia in a range of areas is in the national spotlight.
Employment is a stark reminder of the task ahead.
The latest figures put the unemployment rate for indigenous Australia at 18 per cent, up nearly four per cent from the year before.
There are an estimated 35,400 unemployed indigenous persons aged 15 years and over.
Entering the workforce can be daunting and complex, particularly for first time job seekers like Mr Chambers.
Many find themselves simultaneously dealing with government regulations, family pressures and their own personal ambition.
“I think what we do best is assist them to manage all of that,” said Debbie Maguire, the chief executive officer of Birrang Enterprise Development Company, a local indigenous employment service provider who is a member of the Indigenous Employer Program.
“We build up a rapport and find out what they want to do and place them in a job they actually want to be doing, not one they’re told to do.
“Ben’s a great example of a young person with a young family who has been given a hand up to assist him to reach his goals.
“But he’s taken it from there.
“He’s been in the job for 40 weeks which is just fantastic.
“We’re very proud of him.”