Many community organisations are committed to helping people make a difference, by empowering them to overcome their barriers and build the skills they need to reach their full potential. They believe that everyone has a unique story that deserves to be heard.
Helping Hands Mission is a Melbourne-based charity doing just that. The organisation provides individuals with invaluable work experience, support and material aid. It is also a host of the Work for the Dole program, facilitated by Workforce Australia Services providers, including WCIG.
WCIG oversees the Work for the Dole program in Melbourne’s northeast. The program aims to assist participants with gaining valuable skills and experience and preparing them for ongoing meaningful employment while contributing to the local community.
Recently, WCIG placed a Work for the Dole participant, Duha, at Helping Hands Mission. Since then, things have only looked up. We sat down with Adam Volpato, Helping Hands Mission’s Relationships Manager, and Duha for a candid conversation about Helping Hands Mission’s unique approach to changing lives and what it is like to work there.
“We run various initiatives, including operating several Op Shops and facilitating Emergency and Material Aid Programs. Our Op Shops provide the means to create different roles, including retail sales, warehouse and community pantry assistants which Work for the Dole participants can choose from. Proceeds from the Op Shops directly support our Aid Programs”, Adam explained.
“We currently have 45 Work for the Dole participants across four sites. When participants begin, they are asked about their skill sets and what they want to get out of the program. They are then matched with a role that’s right for them. Some participants gain permanent employment directly with Helping Hands after working at the Op Shop,” said Adam.
Duha is one such participant who has thrived since she began working in Helping Hands Mission’s Op Shop in Preston. WCIG’s Work for the Dole Coordinator, Granville Jones, referred Duha to the organisation because of her strong passion for retail.
“Since commencing, Duha has taken on a range of duties within the shop. “Both Kerry, our Preston Store Manager, and I have been particularly impressed with Duha’s work ethic. She immediately showed great resourcefulness and initiative, with a driven and can-do attitude,” Adam stated.
“I am very happy working here. It’s a friendly atmosphere, and everyone is very caring. I have built my confidence and social skills. I would encourage anyone given the opportunity to be trained and work here to take advantage of it,” said Duha.
Many participants get something out of their time at Helping Hands Mission- employment, friendships, confidence, an outlet to be included in the community – and their efforts are recognised and appreciated.”
“It is enriching for me when participants ask for a reference. It shows me that they believe in their abilities and are eager to make the next move into paid employment,”, Adam added.
Duha’s experience at Helping Hands Missions is a wonderful anecdote of how notable community organisations are catalysing and sustaining positive change for their participants, creating far-reaching effects and brighter futures for many