7 October 2023

Green Connect striving for employment success for Illawarra youth and families

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Two young people working with Green Connect.

Green Connect is aiming to help more young people like Yinyin Khinsay and Maya Saunders. Photo: Community Resources.

The Illawarra’s Green Connect is partnering in an employment initiative aimed at creating jobs for 450 unemployed young people and families.

The three-year Strive for Success campaign aims to help people find employment in the Illawarra and on the NSW mid-North Coast.

Green Connect is one of three social enterprises operating under Community Resources, which secured funding for the project through the Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF).

Community Services General Manager Lisa Berry said PRF’s funding for Strive for Success was an investment in a brighter future for communities.

“It will empower young people and families while strengthening economic growth,” she said.

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Strive for Success aims to tackle the high national youth unemployment rate and reduce the number of jobless families by helping people reconnect with education and training, become work-ready and secure employment.

It will focus on supporting young people experiencing barriers to employment, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing disadvantage; refugees or humanitarian entrants; early school leavers and disengaged youth; people who have had contact with the criminal justice system; those who are homeless or in precarious housing; those addicted to illicit substances; or people experiencing mental illness.

PRF’s Head of Employment Josephine Khalil said Community Resources had a proven track record of helping disadvantaged people find work.

“This will contribute to a real shift in impact within these regional communities and provide young people with more opportunities to achieve economic dignity,” she said.

Green Connect was launched in 2011 and received funding to develop a social enterprise providing employment opportunities for former refugees in waste recovery.

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In 2013, it came under the umbrella of Port Kembla’s Our Community Project, and work in waste recovery grew. The following year it incorporated Urban Grown, an urban farm working with young people and launched its third business arm, Fair Food. Green Connect started selling vegetable boxes to households and restaurants and creating employment opportunities for a second target group, young people.

In 2018, the team merged with Community Resources and then launched a Youth Employment Program to support at-risk young people to gain training, work experience and paid employment.

Green Connect General Manager Robert Servine said the organisation was proud to partner with PRF to deliver the Strive to Success project.

“Entering the employment market is often daunting for young people, particularly in regional areas where there may be fewer opportunities,” he said.

For more information or to apply to join Strive for Success, call Community Resources on 02 6555 8922. Interested businesses and training providers are also invited to call.

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