As a child, James was no different to others his age – he dreamed of a job and a family. Sadly, he found himself on a path where he “just wanted to break rules” and ultimately got into serious trouble and received a criminal conviction.
“There’s a lot of jobs that I was restricted from that I was aiming for in my teen years,” James says.
“As a little kid I wanted to be a police officer, obviously I can’t do that anymore. I’ve also wanted to be a security guard – I can’t do that anymore.”
James went through a rough patch while he struggled to find work and experienced the stigma associated with his offending as a young man.
“All it takes is someone to tell their boss that ‘he’s an ex criminal’ and it’s a put off,” he says.
In time, James heard about the Jobs Victoria Employment Network (JVEN), run by Jesuit Social Services, which assists Victorians experiencing barriers to employment into jobs, including people with justice system involvement. Through the program, he has now found steady employment.
In Jesuit Social Services, James was happy to find an organisation that was prepared to look past his history and help him move towards a brighter future. “Sometimes they [other services] are hesitant about helping people but when I came to your program it was just straight open arms, come in, let’s fix you up a resume and let’s get you out there into employment.”
For James, having a job helps him support his young family.
“It means my son has a roof over his head, it means he has clothes on his back and food in his belly, which is the main thing for me,” he says.
“I can hopefully give my kids things that I never had in my childhood. That’s what it means to me.”