“It feels like I’m more stable now … It has given me a bit of meaning, and it’s kept me busy.” This is how a young man who had contact with the justice system and lives with a mental illness described the impact on his life of a Jesuit Social Services employment program.
That program was the Jobs Victoria Employment Services (JVES) program – a Victorian Government-funded service providing personalised employment support to long-term unemployed jobseekers and to jobseekers who are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed. Unfortunately, the Victorian Government has decided to scale back this program, which has propelled Jesuit Social Services to actively explore new ways to find pathways to employment for people who face significant barriers to social and economic inclusion.
Jesuit Social Services has a decades-long history of accompanying people who experience barriers to participation – in employment, in education and in various other settings. We work to develop relationships and trust, and to offer appropriate support for each person’s circumstances.
The JVES program has been particularly successful, and indeed unique, in what it offers. Through this voluntary program for jobseekers, we employ jobs mentors who work with jobseekers to become work-ready and connect with jobs, and employer brokers who work with employers. We focus on being responsive to each person. Some jobseekers are best accompanied by a mentor with lived experience and an understanding of the justice system and its complexities – such as pursuing work while on a corrections order. For others, it is someone with industry knowledge in construction procurement, or someone well-versed in ensuring a culturally safe work environment.