“Jobs change lives,” BEST employment employee specialist Sheree Middleton said.
Locals Laura Blacklock and David Binge agreed, and said they’ve seen the change in their own lives and that of their families and communities since being hired by Woolworths through Indigenous job seeker program Diversity Dimensions.
“Since I started working here, they’ve been asking me ‘How’d you get that job?’,” Laura said. She said she loved being a role model to others.
“My family’s really proud of me, and even my daughter - she’s 15 - she wants to work now.”
Laura said despite her strong desire to work, previous setbacks made it hard for her to apply to Woolworths through their online applications. However after blitzing her way through several interviews with BEST employment, undertaking training in Glen Innes and taking on a week of work experience, it was pretty clear to store management that she was a perfect fit.
Likewise, David found the traditional applying process difficult and said he wanted to work on his communication skills. He hoped his new nightfill position could inspire his children, and said he loved the work.
“I really like that. I do a bit of a workout with the drinks and stuff!” he said.
“The people that I’m working with are really good. We have a bit of a laugh”.
The pair are now a staple in the store, and are already looking for ways to expand their roles. David hopes to add customer service to his skillset, and Laura is keen to find ways to move up the ladder.
Sheree said that although many Indigenous people wanted to work, sometimes it was hard to “get them out into the community”.
“It’s not that they don’t have the ability, a lot of the times. And it’s not just with the Indigenous community, a lot of people don’t know themselves what they’re capable of until they’re given these opportunities,” she said.
“We don’t get a lot of Indigenous (people) apply for our roles, but on meeting Indigenous people, they’re the same as everybody else that apply,” store manager Kim Fenton said.
“So it’s just brought them into the limelight, and if I had interviewed Laura and David without the program, I would have hired both of them.”
Laura said she hoped to see more Aboriginal people employed around Inverell in the future. “There are Indigenous people that want to work. It’s hard to find work,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of barriers, because a lot of people tried it. It’s not easy.”