The Jobs Victoria Advocates Program provides the tailored support, information and referrals needed to connect jobseekers with employment. Jesuit Social Services started delivering the program in Melbourne in early 2021 and has since supported more than 600 job-seekers – including Lucy*, who was referred to the program after a period of prolonged unemployment.
Lucy is capable and qualified, with a Bachelor of International Relations and multiple qualifications in Community Services. But Lucy suffers from mental ill-health, including anxiety and depression, making it hard for her to communicate and interview for roles with confidence. The flexibility of the Jobs Victoria Advocates Program was what she needed.
Lucy’s Advocate, Candice Zavattiero, helped her engage with mental health and career counselling support. This has included giving her advice with resume-writing, finding roles suited to her qualifications, and help with general confidence-building.
Candice said the program is voluntary – driven by a participant’s own goals, which makes building trust crucial to its success.
“People don’t fit inside a box,” she said.
“Some participants are job-ready, but lack confidence. We give them a safe space to ask questions and show vulnerability around employment, which can be quite difficult. Once you build that rapport, you can answer questions, and provide referrals and resources.”
One referral Candice made was to Lucy’s local Skills and Jobs Centre, where she could attend webinars and receive practical support with job-searching.
Jobs Victoria Advocate Program Manager Bianca Barbarisi said many people referred to the program aren’t aware of the services available to them and need support to access help.
“Sometimes all people need is that human interaction – a hand to help you get where you want to be,” she said.
Over time, and with Candice’s support, Lucy has made significant progress with her job applications – she’s identifying roles she’s suited to, writing clear and compelling applications, and receiving offers for job interviews when previously she’d had none.
Lucy said the support of the program has made searching for a job easier.
“I’ve been dealing with long-term unemployment for many years and it’s definitely taken a toll on my life and my mental health.
“Having someone who is both non-judgemental and professional to talk to and share ideas with has really made a difference for me.
“Unemployment is still not where I would choose to be in life, but having Candice to guide and support me has made it easier to deal with.”
*This participant’s name has been changed to protect her privacy – Lucy is a pseudonym.