In recognition of National Reconciliation Week 2021, we spoke with Indigenous jobseeker Jessica, her employment consultant and employer. This is a story that urges employers to give more people a chance.
- A strong mindset
- Help from an employment services provider
- It’s not about what people are, it’s about who people are
- Barriers to work for an Indigenous person
Becoming a Mum at a young age fuelled Jessica’s determination to become a better person. While no-one in her family worked, she wanted to provide for her son, encourage him to complete his education and give him a better life than she had.
Jessica says, “Sometimes being Indigenous, you think you can’t do this or you can’t do that. But really, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what you look like. If you’re focused, open and motivated, you can pretty much do whatever you want.”
CoAct/BUSY At Work gave Jessica the guidance and support to work out what kind of job she wanted through jobactive. As a caring and hard-working individual, who’s a good listener, they knew customer service was the right path. They helped her build industry skills with food handling and hygiene courses, and then found Jessica her first ever paid work in a café, at the age of 26.
“We encourage employers to give more people a chance,” says her employment consultant Helen. “If someone has the right attitude and transferrable skills, we say – try them out for a week and see how they go. We’ll then support both the employer and jobseeker as they settle in and work through any challenges. They can talk to us about anything.”
The team builds strong relationships with employers. This means they can match them with potential candidates and talk to them directly about an individual’s strengths and what they’ll bring to their business.
Last year, Helen saw a job at the café Vincenzos, in Mareeba, and shared it with Jessica. She knew Jessica was looking for a more challenging role now that her son was older. By the end of that day, she’d updated her resume, prepared for and nailed the interview, and been offered the job.
Vincenzo’s owner, Annette, says, “As soon as I met Jessica, I thought – I like this girl. She had a good attitude and was open to learning. I tried her out straight away and was right. It’s not about what people are, it’s about who people are. And Jessica’s a friendly, professional and enthusiastic employee who gets a great response from customers.”
Jessica says, “I’ve been here eight months now and love it. I think I had the skills inside me all along, I just needed some experience, a referee and the right job to bring them out.”
For an Indigenous person, there can be a lot of barriers to finding a job. They may not have the skills, experience, family support or transport they need. “We sometimes we need a bit of encouragement and a push,” says Jessica. “With the support of CoAct/BUSY At Work, I now have a job, my own place and a car. I only see myself moving up from here.”
If we’re going to establish better relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we all need to take action. We need to give more people a go.
If you need support and guidance looking for work, register with us today. jobactive is just one of the employment programs we offer.
Find out more about National Reconciliation Week 2021.