Empowering Through Education: A Journey of Resilience and Renewal during Disability Action Week

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In 2020, Rick Gill faced a life-altering moment when a serious back injury at work led to severe anxiety and depression. Admitting that "it got pretty bad," Rick, who had experienced the toll of manual labour and management stresses, realised he needed a change.

"60-70-hour weeks and I just kept pushing till it ended up costing me three years of my life," Rick said.

Despite early signs of depression and anxiety, Rick's old-school approach led him to internalise his struggles, ultimately landing him in hospital.

Taking matters into his own hands, Rick sought a new path. Little did he know that this journey would lead him to a fulfilling career in the disability support industry.

Sharing his story to promote Disability Action Week (November 25 to December 2), Rick said he began with a commitment to self-improvement. It was a journey that connected him with the training team at IMPACT Community Services.

Attending an information day, Rick met Gay, Michelle, and Katie, setting the stage for a participation in a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability).

Reflecting on his training experience with IMPACT, Rick commended the support he received.

“Given that I was going through what I was going through, and I didn’t even tell Gay about the depression and stuff. I had told her I’d had a back injury, but she just got it somehow,” Rick said.

"But it wasn’t just me. She was able to engage with the entire class on a personal level, which kept us all plugging through it."

Now employed in the disability support industry, Rick said it had been one of the most rewarding things he’d ever done.

While the journey to overcome depression and anxiety continues, he finds fulfillment in his work.

“This is the best medicine. When I do something for someone, it makes me feel better, so essentially, it’s part of my healing.”

"I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm kind of good with that," Rick said, recognising the ongoing nature of his mental health journey.

He encouraged others to explore opportunities working with people with disabilities.

"If someone reads this and thinks, 'I'm in a similar situation, maybe I should reach out,' it's worth it," Rick said.

“You hear about people saying it’s not a job if you love it. You always hear it, but you don’t believe it until you’re in that position. I do actually look forward to coming to work.”

That’s what working in the disability sector enables.

If you want to find out more IMPACT’s training pathways, visit Certificate III Training Courses - Impact Community Services.

IMPACT is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO code: 0115).

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses skilling our youth for success and breaking the cycle of generational welfare dependence.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

As we approach World Youth Skills Day on 15 July, I find myself reflecting on how we can support the young people in our community to break the cycle of generational welfare dependence. This year's theme, "Skilling teachers, trainers, and youth for a transformative future” highlights the essential role that educators play in providing skills for youth to successfully transition into the workforce and actively engage in their community.

In the current social climate, it’s more important than ever that we equip our young people with the tools they need to thrive in the workforce. I’m proud that IMPACT Community Services has a wealth of experience in supporting the young people in our communities to gain the skills they need to find and keep work, and to improve their life skills along the way.

Preparing our young people for the workforce is critical, particularly now with current modelling predicting that Queensland will need an additional 280,000 workers by 2024-2025. Equipping our young people for this surge in jobs will require some planning and understanding of workforce skills required, with a predicted 38% of workers requiring a vocational and education training qualification to meet the workforce needs. It is therefore imperative that families and educators are having conversations with young people now, to better understand their interests to ensure that we are adequately preparing them for the opportunities that lie ahead.

However, it’s not enough to enrol young people in training. To truly break the generational welfare cycle, we must raise awareness among our youth about the advantages of employment compared to relying on welfare. By instilling this understanding early on, we can empower them to make informed choices that lead to a brighter future, for them and their future family.

Employment offers more than just financial stability; it fosters a sense of purpose, personal growth, and self-reliance. Through employment, young people can gain valuable experience, develop crucial skills, expand their networks, build confidence and learn responsibility and discipline in addition to achieving financial independence. Employment also cultivates a sense of pride and accomplishment that cannot be replicated by welfare dependency.

To support our youth effectively, it’s essential that school, parents, and the broader community work together. We must create an environment where young people are encouraged to pursue education, training, and apprenticeships. By forging partnerships with local businesses, we can facilitate work experience opportunities, internships, and mentorship programs, further enhancing the independence, practical skills and knowledge of our youth.

This World Youth Skills Day, let’s consider how we can work together to support our youth in breaking the cycle of generational welfare dependence, and the role we all play in empowering them to build a transformative future both for themselves and our community.

Bundaberg man Josh Bridge is proof that a positive attitude can change your life.

The 22-year-old has turned his life around from unemployment and homelessness with the help of the three local organisations, a positive attitude and sheer determination. He says help is available to those who need it, but you must take the initiative and ask for it.

Josh was a boilermaker apprentice but after going through some family issues he and his partner went travelling. When he returned to Bundaberg the couple found themselves homeless and Josh was unable to get work.

With the help of IMPACT and yourtown, Josh and his partner have now secured a home and Josh has a Certificate III in Disability Support from IMPACT and fulltime employment at Without Limits Disability Support.

Josh Bridge has turned his life around with the support of IMPACT Community Services, yourtown, and his new employer, Without Limits Disability Support Services. He says attitude is everything, and you've got to ask for help.

From then to now

When Josh couldn’t find work, Services Australia put him in touch with a job provider who then referred him to yourtown, a transition to work provider.

yourtown’s Business Manager Karla Jurczakowski said: “When Josh met with yourtown, Job Placement Coach Bradley Weymouth took the time to understand where he was at and where he was wanting to go on his journey with us.”

Karla said Bradley was impressed with Josh's tenacity.

“Despite personal challenges, he had a clear direction on wanting to help people. Josh was referred to an IMPACT youth support program, where in addition to getting the support he needed, he was referred on as a possible candidate for a Certificate III in Individual Support – Disability.”

yourtown's Youth Worker Kylie Price assisted with obtaining Josh's Blue Card, Yellow card and a mobile phone, and the organisation also supplied a laptop to help with his continued study.

“When Josh was on placement, we kept in contact to ensure he had everything he needed,” Karla said.

“We were very happy in October when we were able to pay for his license, just in time to start his first paid shift.

"We are very proud of Josh and his resilience and perseverance, and while he has been too busy to keep in contact, knowing he is succeeding is fantastic.”

IMPACT’s Clinical Care Coordinator Jayne Watkins said Josh presented with a positive and open attitude from the first appointment.

"We wish Josh and his family all the very best in his career and want him to know we are always available should he need support again at any time in the future.”

IMPACT Trainer and Assessor Gay Wilson said when she met Josh she was shocked that someone so determined, intelligent and approachable was unemployed and living out of his car.

“Once class commenced it was evident that he was keen to learn and heavily invested in the material he was studying. Thankfully he was able to overcome the negativity and disappointment from his previous life and move forward,” she said.  

“Josh contributed greatly to class discussions and soon became a natural leader and mentor to other students.”

It was during his studies that Josh was introduced to Mike Hayman, Industry Lead at IMPACT. Mike said: “I met Josh as a student in the course. At the time he was homeless and there was a significant need for him to have employment to be successful and have a house. One of my contacts, Marie Blundell, was looking for someone at the time, so Josh went for an interview and blitzed it.”

Gay said she didn’t have to think twice when Without Limits Disability Support were seeking someone to fill a role – Josh was the perfect choice.

“I am very proud of the way Josh has turned his life around. He is now sharing a lovely home with his partner awaiting the arrival of their baby girl and living the life he has earned and deserves.”

Marie Blundell, Director at Without Limits Disability Support Services, said after hearing about Josh's living situation and gaining an understanding of his motivation, determination and work ethic, she couldn't wait to sign him up and hasn't regretted it since.

"To hear that Josh had gone through so much in life, was couch surfing and living in a car with his pregnant partner, and yet presented at classes, well dressed and willing and eager to learn, impressed me,” she said.

“Josh conveyed that he was determined to not go back and was motivated to give the disability industry a go because he realised that he wanted work where he could care for people."

“Already Josh is taking on responsibility for planning our Holiday Program and our Experiential Learning Weekends for young boys and has proved to be a very valuable employee.”

Attitude is everything

Josh was determined to not be a victim of his circumstances.

“I’ve had a lot happen in my life and I wasn’t in the best headspace. It was a really dark time for me. Getting into this course and putting all my determination and effort into get through the course and change my situation has put me in a better headspace”, he said.

“I’ve always had a positive attitude, despite all the tough times. You can only help yourself at the end of the day. No-one else is going to do it for me, so why wait? I’ve got to do it myself.”

Josh has recently completed his studies and now works 6 – 7 days a week. He is grateful for the services, support and encouragement that have been provided to him by IMPACT, Without Limits and yourtown.

“I’ve now got a house, my situation has changed from living in a car to living in a 4-bedroom house. It has been a full backflip, a complete 180. If it wasn’t for the services these guys have provided, I wouldn’t be sitting here today…. But you’ve got to reach out and ask for the help.”

Budding social entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn how to transform their ideas into a ready to launch social enterprise when IMPACT Community Services hosts the Emerge program this month.

IMPACT has partnered with StartSomeGood to Emerge. IMPACT will host the course in a face-to-face environment, allowing participants to benefit from learning alongside other likeminded people while building a local network and sense of community.

Program participants will learn how to take their idea for a social enterprise and develop a plan they can follow step by step to make their idea launch ready.

Social enterprises are organisations that apply commercial strategies to maximise improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being. IMPACT currently runs two social enterprises – New Image Laundry and our Material Recovery Facility.

IMPACT’s General Manager – Innovation, Nathan Spruce, said the program was a fantastic opportunity for budding socially conscious entrepreneurs to be part of a cohort of passionate founders who are on the same journey to design and launch a business that makes a difference within the community.

“IMPACT is excited to be partnering with Emerge to deliver this course, which will save participants time, money and frustration as they learn to organise their thoughts into a business model with thoughtful design for a product or service their customers will love, which generates profit and creates real change on the issues participants are seeking to impact,” Mr Spruce said.

He added: “The course is a fully subsidised program supported by the Social Enterprise Sector Development Grants, so there is no cost to those who take part.”

If you have any questions, please contact Nathan Spruce on 4153 4233.

Explore this opportunity via the StartSomeGood.com website: https://emerge.startsomegood.com/

Sometimes learning new processes or equipment can be a daunting task, but a supportive environment and a trainer who knows how to get the best out of you can make a world of difference.

At IMPACT Community Services, a supportive place to learn and gain experience is exactly what we offer with our SIT30616 Certificate III in Hospitality.

Hospitality trainer Leigh Francis said learning at IMPACT was a safe environment where students could learn how to cook and make coffees without the pressure of doing so in a bustling kitchen.

She said students would be learning around IMPACT’s friendly staff and “leave with a smile on their dial”.

IMPACT Community Services' Hospitality trainer Leigh Francis on studying at IMPACT.

Some of the units covered in this course include customer service, social and cultural sensitivity, hygienic practices for food safety, cleaning, safe work practices and much more.

Graduates with this qualification can apply for work as bar attendants, function hosts, waitpersons, restaurant hosts, kitchen hands, barista, or a short order cook.

Working within the hospitality can provide opportunities to work all over the world from pubs to island resorts and restaurants.

If you would like to learn more about what studying a certificate III at IMPACT is like, an information session will be held on September 6 and 13 at 9.30am.

The onboarding for next Certificate III in Hospitality at IMPACT will start on September 19, 2022, with the course kicking off on September 26.

This course runs Monday to Thursday from 8.45am to 3pm.

For more information phone 4153 4233 or visit the Certificate III in Hospitality page.

IMPACT Community Services is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO Code: 0115).

Teamwork makes the dream work. It would be a tired cliché if it wasn’t true.

IMPACT Community Services is partnering with local businesses in the individual support sector to meet the needs of our community.

While IMPACT already has a strong offering of individual support courses, we are constantly looking to enhance delivery and likewise, businesses in this sector are looking for means to grow their operations and workforce.

Which is why IMPACT, Community Access Care, Community Lifestyle Support, and Care Right Associates have partnered for a new initiative set to benefit students, the future workforce and ultimately have a flow-on effect to people receiving care in the region.

The industry partners will play an active role in IMPACT students’ training and provide guaranteed interview opportunities to those who complete their studies.

IMPACT’s Employment and Training General Manager Nathan Spruce said training with IMPACT was about more than just studying for a qualification, crucially it was also about developing productive employment pathways.

Mr Spruce said forging productive relationships with industry partners was key to getting people into work in a sector where job opportunities were currently high.

Community Lifestyle Support’s Learning and Design Partner Wayne Morden said, “as the major employer of people in the disability sector in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions, we are pleased to be a key partner in this pilot program”.

“What this means for Community Lifestyle Support is that we can be confident in the ground skills of new staff employed through this pilot program, enabling us to develop their skills further when working with our organisation,” he said.

This collaboration is a 12-month pilot program, but if successful it is hoped that the partnerships will increase with more businesses coming onboard.

IMPACT is hoping to apply a similar philosophy with local hospitality businesses to afford the same partnership and learning outcomes for students undertaking training in this field.

For more information on IMPACT’s training opportunities visit: https://impact.org.au/employment-training/certificate-iii-training-courses/

IMPACT is a registered training organisation, RTO Code 0115.

The team at Bundaberg Now captured the partnership between IMPACT Community Services' Green Gang and the Bundaberg Regional Council in a recent story on the boardwalk at Sharon Gorge.

See the article below and head to their website to watch the video!

IMPACT Community Services’ Green Gang trainees and Council’s natural areas team are extending the boardwalk at Sharon Gorge to improve access.

IMPACT employees working on the boardwalk are currently studying their Certificate I in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, with the program employing up to 10 trainees.

Council’s Parks and Gardens spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said the project had been a great opportunity to improve the facilities at Sharon Gorge while making the walk more accessible to the public.

“During the recent rain events there has been damage to the Sharon Gorge walking track, and these works provide us the opportunity to improve the track and raise the height of the boardwalk, so it lasts longer,” Cr Honor said.

“Trainees from IMPACT Community Services have lent a helping hand to build the boardwalk in partnership with our Natural Areas team which is a fantastic opportunity for them to gain hands on experience.

“Upgrading the path by extending the boardwalk provides a safer and easily accessible path for our visitors.”

IMPACT Community Services is assisting in the project through their Work Skills Traineeships – Skilling Queenslanders for Work Program.

Supervisor Rob Alder said the project provided the opportunity for their trainees to gain hands on experience to assist in building up their self-confidence.

IMPACT Community Services' Certificate I in Conservation and Ecosystem Management trainees working with Bundaberg Regional Council at Sharon Gorge. Photo: Bundaberg Regional Council.
IMPACT Community Services' Certificate I in Conservation and Ecosystem Management trainees working with Bundaberg Regional Council at Sharon Gorge. Photo: Bundaberg Regional Council.

“We have got ten trainees in conservation and ecosystem management who are employed by IMPACT Community Services with the help of SQW funding from the Queensland Government,” Rob said.

“This group of trainees are into their fourteenth week and have been doing other tasks but are really enjoying being out here doing the boardwalk.

“Projects like these give them the opportunity to upskill which is really important as some of these people may have lost their self-esteem.”

Rob said the trainees had come from a range of different backgrounds and the projects were a chance for them to make a difference within the community.

“The trainees might be youths straight out of school who have found it tough to get into the workforce or sometimes it is mothers who are re-entering the workforce after bringing up their kids or it could be people who want to change career,” he said.

“They might have started off being a concreter or a brick layer or something like that, but as they get on a little bit their body is not up to what they used to do so they need a bit of guidance as they may be down in the dumps because they have tried so many jobs and they cannot seem to get a job.

“Some of them were a little bit hesitant at first because they had never used any carpentry tools or anything like that, they also had to work out how to go around an arc in a boardwalk and work out the boards.

“Now they have been doing it for a week now they feel right at home, and they can sit back and look and think ‘wow what a difference we have made’.”

IMPACT is a Registered Training Organisation, RTO Code: 0115.

For more information about our traineeship Certificate I in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, click here.

Now that borders are opening up all over the world, IMPACT Community Services has the perfect solution to help you work your way across Australia and the globe.

IMPACT's new hospitality trainer, Leigh Francis, believes that work in hospitality is the perfect way to finance travel to fascinating cultures and the world's top tourist spots.

And our next SIT30616 Certificate III in Hospitality course is just around the corner.

“I worked my way through England and Europe when I was younger, working in bars and restaurants,” Leigh said.

“It's the perfect way to fund your wanderlust.

“And let's face it, everyone's loves an Aussie behind the bar!”

Leigh believes work in hospitality is the most portable job there is, for no matter what the culture, everybody has to eat and drink.

“You can work in fabulous resorts, tropical islands, even aboard luxury yachts,” Leigh said.

She encourages everyone to travel and this is the best way to do it, but advises for people to begin close to home, as, in her opinion, “our backyard is the best”.

IMPACT's Certificate III in Hospitality (SIT30616) will teach you everything you need to know about the hospitality industry and how to get the best out of the tourism industry.

The course has a cookery unit, a customer service unit, a coffee service unit and at the end you will also have RSA certification that will allow you to work anywhere in Australia.

And Leigh is eminently qualified to set you off on your journey.

Leigh spent seven years teaching hospitality and also working as front of house manager at the cafe at the Tom Quinn Centre. She has also worked at the RSL, Across the Waves, an Alice Springs casino and taught at TAFE.

Leigh believes now that all the borders are open, the hospitality industry is ready to renormalise after the disruptions of the COVID pandemic.

Venues had to close, or had to let go staff and couldn't replace them. But she believes all that is about to change.

There might even be stiff competition for hospitality jobs and those with the better training and credentials will have a leg up.

“You have great fun meeting people,” she said.

“It's the ultimate people-person job.”

So if working in hospitality floats your boat, let us help you set sail on it on a grand journey across the globe.

IMPACT is taking new students in May. For more information phone 4153 4233 or visit the Certificate III in Hospitality page.

IMPACT Community Services is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO Code: 0115).

Looking to broaden your horizons this year?

IMPACT Community Services has two training courses, CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) and CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community), starting on February 7, 2022.

IMPACT’s trainer and assessor, Robyn Green, said for anyone interested in this field training was vital.

IMPACT welcomes experienced Robyn to its training team
IMPACT's Robyn Green.

She said for some of the clients who students care for, flexible and reliable support was crucial.

“The support person (students) needs to be highly trained in hygiene covid safe procedures to help themselves and their clients in their everyday routines,” she said.

The courses are delivered under a hybrid classroom/digital model to cater to student circumstances and commitments.

She said with the industry was in high demand, there was a huge variety of skills to be employed.

“There is around the clock shifts with a great hourly rate and room to upskill and gain a respectful employable role and reputation,” she said.

“Working in this industry has long term employment.”

IMPACT’s Innovation General Manager Nathan Spruce said the individual support qualification has three focus areas which can be mapped to each other allowing a choice of employment industries, all of which are growing in Bundaberg.

Looking at more than employment opportunities, Mr Spruce said it was a rewarding profession to support clients develop skills and live out their dreams.

There will be free information sessions ahead of the courses, on January 17, January 24 and January 31 at 9.30am.

More information on IMPACT’s training courses can be found here or you can call 4153 4233.

IMPACT Community Services is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO Code: 0115), located at 108 Bargara Rd, Bundaberg East.  

We are open from 8am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8am-4.30pm on Fridays, visitors are required to adhere to the Covid-19 safety regulations while on-site, this includes wearing a mask while indoors.

As a recent ‘member of the 70s club’, David Kirkwood is proof there’s no deadline on education and there’s no time like the present to pursue your interests. 

Supporting and caring for others is something David has spent the last two decades undertaking in his personal life, and now he has a certificate to do so in an official setting. 

He recently completed a Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community) at IMPACT Community Services and is looking forward to the opportunities that are now at his feet. 

The journey to his certification wasn’t without obstacles; he said Covid-19 caused his class to be split and postponed, and then there was a holiday road trip. 

But his perseverance and encouragement from IMPACT’s trainer Robyn, saw him complete the qualification! 

He said finishing the Certificate III felt ‘very good’. 

David said the goal was to spend the majority of his time helping clients or carers. 

No stranger to helping others, David has also been a volunteer with IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme for the past five years. 

And in 2009 he undertook a Certificate in Aged Care, but he didn’t do anything with his qualification. 

Determined not to follow suit with this achievement, David is hoping to secure work in the industry early next year. 

David recommended the Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community) to anyone and encouraged people to give it a go.  

The next Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community) will begin February 7, 2022. 

Graduates of a CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Home & Community) typically apply for work as: 

IMPACT is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO Code: 0115).  For more information about the course, click here.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about IMPACT's holistic approach to training, employment and support.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Having a job provides more than just a paycheck.

While it’s always nice to earn money and enjoy the certain freedoms that can buy, studies have shown stable employment is also linked to our overall happiness and wellbeing.

Having a purpose is incredibly rewarding, and finding employment that you enjoy is important.

That’s why our jobactive and youth employment programs strive to find our job seekers work that aligns with their goals and values.

At IMPACT we aim to keep people motivated in their employment journey and work closely with our training organisation to help clients take the necessary steps towards their ideal jobs.

When looking for employment it’s important that job seekers have the ability to upskill into their desired field.

Assisting our clients to access further studies or gain relevant training is pivotal to their ongoing employment prospects.

Our wrap-around approach to training and employment offers holistic support to our clients in high-demand fields.

We offer Certificate III training in disability support, aged care, home and community care, and hospitality to ensure our clients are not only able to upskill into a rewarding field, but gain sustainable, ongoing employment.

Taking a new step can be daunting, however our training department offers an in-house upskilling option for people already engaged with IMPACT in other areas.

This provides our existing jobactive, Transition to Work or Skilling Queenslanders for Work program participants with a familiar environment while transition into new territory.

Many of our graduates are often able to secure work before finishing their certificates, and are blown away by the obstacles they have been able to overcome both personally and professionally throughout the duration of their course.

Along with training opportunities, we also encourage our clients to engage in other forms of work that can assist them in their employment goals.

Volunteering, gaining work experience and beginning internships are some of the ways we are able to help people make their first steps into employment or back into the workforce.

We pride ourselves on our approach to service delivery, and the employment and training departments replicate that.

Providing wrap-around support allows us to offer improved outcomes for our clients in all areas of employment, parenting and relationships, NDIS, health and mental wellbeing.

Helping people improve their lives is our philosophy and each of our departments strives to achieve this every day to best serve our Bundaberg community.

New Hospitality trainer and assessor Jasmyne Larter is helping people transform their lives at IMPACT.

IMPACT Community Services' Hospitality Trainer Jasmyne Larter
IMPACT Community Services' Hospitality Trainer Jasmyne Larter

Jasmyne is a chef by trade, and has owned and run two cafes, making her perfectly suited as a hospitality trainer and assessor with IMPACT, which is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO code: 0115).

Jasmyne fears we're in danger of becoming a lazy order-in society when it comes to food, and that is why she focuses on teaching good customer service.

“You remember bad service, but you also remember good service,” Jasmyne said.

“If you know you're going to be treated well, you'll make the effort to go out.”

Jasmyne said the secret to good customer service included confidence.

“Confidence is so important,” she said.

“But you also have to be willing to learn how to relate to people.”

Already two of Jasmyne’s students, who've grown considerably in confidence and learned the magic of connecting to people, have found employment.

“And it's fantastic how IMPACT staff all pitched in to help with writing resumes, and now they've both gotten jobs,” she said.

Jasmyne said it was vital to teach students how to treat people with respect and courtesy to help create the right atmosphere.

And she loves the way the course brings people out of their shells.

“It only takes a little encouragement to transform someone into a confident service person,” she said.

“Anyone can make a cup of coffee or serve a piece of cake, but it's all about learning how you make people feel.”

Funding support is available for the Certificate III course for eligible participants. Find out more about IMPACT’s hospitality course by calling 4153 4233 or going to https://impact.org.au/employment-training/certificate-iii-training-courses/certificate-iii-hospitality-2/

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


We know the Bundaberg region has had one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country for some time, and the rate of disengaged job seekers is a serious issue.

In June 2020 national youth unemployment hit a 23-year high of 16.4 per cent.

The Bundaberg Regional Council’s Bundaberg Jobs Commitment document states an estimated 10,000 Bundaberg residents are currently disengaged.

It found over a third of disengaged residents, an estimated 3,500, were youth aged between 15 and 24.

It is feared that if this section of the community continues this path, the inability to fill current job vacancies will constrain local business growth and encourage generational cycles of unemployment.

Not only does joblessness create economic uncertainty, but several unfavourable circumstances can be linked to unemployment.

Unemployment leads to greater disadvantage

Reduced savings and superannuation, and increased use of health services and pharmaceuticals have been identified at higher rates within the unemployed population; people have a reduced ability to buy nutritious food, housing and health care.

Transition to Work at IMPACT Community Services

Lower self-esteem and loss of self-identity can also impact physical and mental health as well as reduce one’s sense of contribution to community, leading to a number of concerning behaviours including depression, domestic violence, relationship breakdowns and drug or alcohol addictions.

It comes as no surprise that a lack of employment becomes a gateway to many other social and societal issues that are also evident in our region.

Understanding the consequences of unemployment is what gives our Transition to Work team the drive to keep young people engaged in their employment journey.

Transition to Work helps youth shift straight from school to employment

Too many of our youth are leaving school and becoming comfortable in the ‘job seeker’ void between ‘school leaver’ and ‘engaged in employment’.

Proposed solutions in the council’s Jobs Commitment document involves connecting employers with the region’s youth to inspire and assist them in making work and education decisions after school.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Saluting our region's senior citizens

Our Transition to Work program, an Australian Government initiative, assists school leavers and young people to understand what is expected in the workplace and develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours employers want.

We can also provide young people with access to our strong network of employers.

TtW offers more support than just finding a job

The dedicated team of Youth Coaches assist with identifying employment opportunities in the local area, developing practical skills to get a job, finding and participating in work experience placement opportunities, connecting with education or training, finding appropriate apprenticeship and traineeships and connecting with relevant local community services.

If you know of someone aged between 15 and 24 disengaged from education and seeking employment, phone IMPACT on 4153 4233.

Alternatively, if you are in a position to offer employment, please also get in touch.

Getting a job is pivotal to a young person’s ongoing success and wellbeing; let’s work together to improve our region’s future.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


Our senior citizens make up a large part of our community in Bundaberg.

It’s important that the generations who helped build our region to what it is today are still treated as valued members of the community.

That’s where our Community Visitors Scheme shines bright.

CVS provides friends for older people

IMPACT’s CVS program has been operating in the Bundaberg region for over 28 years and provides much needed companionship to older citizens.

Loneliness has been linked to premature death and poor physical and mental wellbeing.

Statistics from 2018 show that instances of Australians experiencing loneliness increased from the age of 70, from 13% of the population to almost 20% in those aged 80 or over.

Caring for others has been identified as an important safeguard to prevent or reduce loneliness, which is why our CVS program is so vital.

Visits can assist in several ways, and they don’t always have to be in person.

This offers a compromise in times of COVID restrictions, a flu of any outbreak, or when a volunteer falls within a high-risk health category.

Visit an elderly person with IMPACT's CVS program

While many of our volunteers visit the elderly in their homes or aged care facilities, some of our visitors are trialing online communications through digital tablets.

We also offer these digital tablets as a way to play games and encourage friendships to flourish between the resident and volunteer.

Reading a book, listening to music or playing a board game are also very rewarding ways to spend time with an elderly person.

Technology based visits made possible with CVS program

Virtual Reality headsets are another method we are trialing through CVS.

Many of our elderly can no longer travel great distances, and VR provides a glimpse of life away from the everyday.

Some volunteers have had their participants riding roller coasters at theme parks and re-visiting their old childhood homes they hadn’t seen in years.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Celebrating our long serving employees

The benefits of visiting are endless, for both the visitor and the visited.

To further ensure our volunteers are also reaping the rewards of community and companionship, our CVS team hosts a catch-up each month.

This provides our valued visitors the opportunity to debrief and provide feedback, advice, words of encouragement and support for one another, as well as training opportunities for those who would like to use the tablets or VR headsets.

Catch us at the Bundaberg Seniors Expo 2021

If you’re interested in participating, our CVS staff will be at the Seniors Expo this Tuesday, March 23, at the Bundaberg Multiplex Convention Centre from 9am to 1pm.

Alternatively, phone Heather Hinsbey on 0448 035 891 to discuss your volunteer options.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director


At the end of each year IMPACT Community Services celebrates milestone employment achievements with its staff.

In December 2020 there were a number of employees who reached significant milestones with the organisation, and we thank each and every one of them for their dedication to our cause and their commitment to their work.

Two of these employees, Derek Heidke and Anne Marie Wyatt who work at IMPACT’s Material Recycling Facility on University Drive, celebrated an impressive 30 years of service in December.

And Peter Beddie who also works at the MRF was awarded for his outstanding service of 15 years.

I am told that when Derek, Anne Marie and Peter were presented with their plaques, they were humbly grateful for their awards but were more eager to get back to the job.

These are employees who have witnessed incredible change throughout their work lives.

IMPACT took over the facility in 2002 which was previously operated by Independence Incorporated.

In the beginning, the centre used to process 10 truck loads per week.

Now, they’re handling up to 40 truckloads per week with the MRF recycling 7,800 tonnes of material last year.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Choose to Challenge this #IWD2021

We often publicise the work our supported employees do and the huge amounts of recycling they process each year, but we don’t often get to acknowledge them on a personal level.

These are people who may have struggled to gain employment, even though they have largely employable skills and the willingness to give anything a go.

The work environment at the MRF is also an incredibly supportive space that feels more like a family than a workplace.

Everyone is respectful towards one another and take their roles seriously, but they also have a lot of fun in what they do.

The management and supervising team do an outstanding job with our supported employees across our social enterprises by offering ongoing support, training and guidance, and it shines through when you see these places operating in full swing.

I work in the community services sector because it provides a sense of real achievement when I see lives changed for the better.

The MRF and supported employees are just one example of this, and I am overcome with pride when I see our staff and participants grow, prosper and transform their goals into reality.

STRONGER TOGETHER: IMPACT Community Choir Sings for Joy

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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