atWork Australia

jobactive | Disability Employment Services | NDIS | atWork Australia

MANDURAH – atWork Australia is proud to share the success of their recent regional employment program designed for ParentNext participants. ParentsNext is a support service available for parents receiving parenting payments who have a child under the age of six. The program helps parents, while they are caring for their children, to plan and prepare for either study or employment once their child is in full-time school.

ParentsNext participants in the Peel Region were invited to join an eight-week Regional Employment Trial program in collaboration with atWork Australia and Inspire 4 U, a not-for-profit organisation who ran the program. The Parents Exploring Employment Pathways (PEEP) program aims to assist participants develop personal and career goals, increase motivation and gain employment skills.

Jacqui D’Vine, atWork Australia’s ParentsNext Manager, said ‘We saw a real need for a program like this in the Peel region, which has an unemployment rate higher than the national average. Participants in the PEEP program are given the opportunity to learn new skills, boost their confidence and develop ways to manage being a parent at the same time as working towards their employment goals.’

PEEP program participants at the graduation ceremony

Social isolation, loss of confidence in engaging with other adults and social anxiety are just some of the barriers that these participants face. In addition, some participants experience challenges with insufficient income to provide basic needs for the family, mental health problems and domestic violence. This kind of program is an important step in finding support to address individual challenges, as well as gaining knowledge and skills to begin the journey towards entering or re-entering the workforce.

Kerry Smallwood, the manager of Inspire 4 U said, ‘Each participant gains a clear idea of a suitable career path that they feel suits their personality, lifestyle and passions.’

The PEEP program provides a supportive space where the participants learn how to set personal and career goals and develop strategies for overcoming barriers. The importance of self-care is also addressed, particularly for parents as they spend a lot of time looking after their family. Each participant receives a work ready makeover and learns about styling and personal presentation for the workplace. The participating parents also develop skills such as managing budgets and how to seek assistance from other community services, if needed.

The participating parents said that PEEP provided them with a support network that they had not had before. Participants meet for play dates, coffee dates and connect through social media. These friendships and support networks help to increase their sense of confidence in themselves and their future, as well as reduce social isolation.

Participants were eager to give their own feedback about the PEEP program:

  • ‘This program completely restored my confidence in myself to go out and get my dream career. I recommend this program 110 percent!’ Bronwyn M.
  • ‘This program has changed my life. I now know I can have a career that allows me to make enough income to never have to rely on Centrelink payments, instead I will be in a position to give back to my community.’ Racheal L.
  • ‘The PEEP program definitely helped me to see the things that I can do with my future. I think most people should give it a go because it gets you out of yourself and helps you to find what you want to do.’ Jessica J.

All 11 participants successfully completed the PEEP program, graduating on the 25th June 2019 with an afternoon graduation event that they organised themselves. All participants are continuing with studies that will enable them to achieve their individual career goals, which include becoming a medical researcher, a social worker, a childcare worker, studying to be a midwife/nurse, and working in human resources. Most participants have enrolled to study at their local TAFE and one proud Nyoongar participant has been accepted to study counselling at university in Bunbury.

The success of the PEEP program has led to four additional programs scheduled to take place over the next 12 months.

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