Navigating the employment landscape can be challenging for many people, particularly young people. atWork Australia is now shedding light on the pressing issue of youth unemployment, specifically among those who are experiencing challenges with their mental health and wellbeing, which can add another layer of difficulty to their job search.
A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlighted that 16% of young people aged 15–24 are unemployed, an increase from 12% of the previous year1. Furthermore, headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation found that almost one third of young people are disengaged with work/study2.
For young Australians, securing employment can at times be a stressful process. The contemporary job market often demands a unique set of skills and qualifications, placing significant expectations on young people’s shoulders.
Mental health and wellbeing can also impact youth unemployment, with research showing that unemployment rates for people with moderate and severe mental disorders are up to five times higher than in the general population3.
atWork Australia works with people living with a disability, injury, health condition or those who require additional support to find meaningful and sustainable unemployment. They tailor their services to the individual person’s needs to help everyone improve their working lives.
Lacie, aged 22, from Playford, South Australia, has been working with atWork Australia to not only help find meaningful employment, but to be set up with a career for her future. In South Australia, unemployment rates are highest among young people aged 25 years or less and are generally higher in rural and remote areas (City of Playford)4.
Lacie lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a mental disability that affects the way people feel about themselves and others, making it hard to function in everyday life5. Living with this disorder created many challenges for Lacie to secure employment. She experiences difficulties with regulating her emotions and finds small inconveniences can ruin her day.
Lacie was connected with a Job Coach, Brittney, who worked with her to gain the skills and support she needed to enter the workforce. Not only did Brittney provide Lacie with practical support, but also emotional support. “I love that our conversations aren’t always job focused, they are more personalised. We can talk about the weekend and how I am feeling in life, like you would with a friend”, Lacie said.
Having someone who could lift up Lacie’s spirits when feeling down and provide a friendly and non-judgemental environment made her feel comfortable and supported. “There is a lot of stigma around employment and mental health with many businesses, however, atWork Australia made it easy for me to forget about this and fulfill my passion,” Lacie said.
Lacie received assistance from atWork Australia to complete her Working with Children Check, along with various training such as her first aid course, resume writing support and finding an outfit that made her feel special for her first day. She is now completing a certificate in childcare, following her placement which is scheduled for this month. “They have set me up for my career”, she said.
atWork Australia’s role is to connect more people and businesses so both can thrive. The company works with clients to improve diversity and inclusion in Australian businesses and find creative solutions so everyone can find employment that is right for them.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Engagement in education or employment. June 2021. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/engagement-in-education-or-employment. Accessed 2 February 2024.
- headspace supporting young people to navigate the turbulent quest for full-time employment. https://headspace.org.au/our-organisation/media-releases/headspace-supporting-young-people-to-navigate-the-turbulent-quest-for-full-time-employment/. Accessed 2 February 2024.
- Victoria University. Vocational Mental Policy Evidence Brief 2022. https://content.vu.edu.au/sites/default/files/media/vocational-mental-policy-brief-2022.pdf. Accessed 2 February 2024.
- Government of South Australia. City of Playford. July 2019. https://atlasesaustralia.au/LGASA/Profiles/Playford.pdf. Accessed 2 February 2024.
- Mayo Clinic. Borderline Personality Disorder. January 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237. Accessed 2 February 2024.