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Work for the Dole

Bridging the gap to employment with Work for the Dole

By August 31, 2023September 8th, 2023No Comments

At Helping Hands Mission in Melbourne’s north-west, compassion and action intersect to make a meaningful difference in the lives of local people. Aptly named, Helping Hands extends the hand up that many people in need are seeking. The multi-faceted not-for-profit offers op-shops, a food pantry, community kitchen, Christmas toy shop, volunteer program, Work for Dole activities and more.

The Helping Hands Airport West op-shop, community pantry and Christmas toy store

The benefits of Work for the Dole at Helping Hands Mission

Adam Volpato is the Relationships Manager at Helping Hands. He’s also an advocate, mentor, and soft landing for the hundreds of people who walk through the doors each week. Adam collaborates with Jobfind’s Theresa Tran to offer an 8-week Work for the Dole program to Jobfind’s Workforce Australia participants. The Work for the Dole activity will host up to five of Jobfind’s participants at a time, providing a real-world setting for out-of-work individuals to gain valuable employability skills and confidence to work.

“The Work for the Dole program at Helping Hands can help people find their feet as they reconnect with work,” says Adam.

More than that, Adam says that Helping Hands Work for Dole program offers immediate social inclusion for people who have been isolated from work and community. Over the past seven years, more than 900 people have benefitted from Helping Hands’ Work for the Dole activities: 22 went on to secure employment with the not-for-profit.

Theresa Tran, Jobfind’s Work for the Dole and Community Projects Manager, sees firsthand how the activity at Helping Hands positively impacts Jobfind’s long-term unemployed participants.

“Participants can fill gaps in their resume, gain current work/volunteer experience in a supportive and inclusive environment. They also have the full range of services available to them from Helping Hands, including access to employment opportunities,” says Theresa.

Importantly, participants also walk away with the benefits of social interaction and a great sense of purpose from the work they do to support Helping Hands Mission, says Theresa.

A grocery box available from the food pantry

Gaining valuable skills for work

In the Helping Hands op-shops, which include clothes, shoes and household items, Work for Dole participants sort the huge amount of donated goods and then display them for sale.

They are also learning (or re-learning) to work as a part of a team, manage time, show initiative, problem solve and even travel to and from work.

Theresa says:

“Establishing a good work routine and building up foundational skills for work are important steppingstones for our participants who have experienced long-term unemployment, especially if they have a limited work history.”

In addition, Adam helps people fill the gaps in their resume with the new skills they have acquired on the job. As he’s seen their on-the-job capabilities, he also encourages his participants to call on him as a recent work referee.

Simon’s pathway to employment with Helping Hands

Simon*attended Jobfind to regain his momentum and secure new employment after a long history of work in the corporate world. When Jobfind referred Simon to Helping Hands to access their support services he never expected it to lead to work, let alone a new career direction.

After one week of volunteering in the community pantry, Simon was offered part-time work in warehouse operations. He says the work is more than just a job to him: “I’m not judged here, I feel welcome. It feels like I’m giving back and doing something good.”

Through his experience at Helping Hands, Simon has discovered a newfound sense of discipline, purpose and fulfillment. He also has gained valuable insight and clarity regarding his future career aspirations in this new field of work.

Well done, Simon and congratulations to all at Helping Hands for their amazing work supporting our community and participants.

*name changed for privacy

About Helping Hands Mission

Helping Hands Mission supports over 500 families each week across Victoria, providing Emergency and Material Aid programs including Op Shops, Community Kitchen, Community Pantry, and a Christmas Toy Drive. It also provides training and employment pathways for Work for the Dole participants and the long-term unemployed, and is powered by an army of 300 volunteers that make up the face of the organisation.

About Work for the Dole at Jobfind

Work for the Dole is a work-like experience program available to our Workforce Australia Services participants. Work for the Dole helps job seekers to build employability skills, confidence and community connections. Jobfind offers Work for the Dole in Melbourne and surrounding areas.

To enquire about becoming a Work for the Dole host or participant, please email Theresa Tran on