Worldview Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation delivering holistic employment training programs and ongoing career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people facing disadvantage.
Currently, Worldview Foundation intakes around 30 individuals each year, targeting at-risk youth and those who have had contact with the justice system.
“We basically help people who aren’t job ready to become job ready,” says Founding Director Kurt Gruber. “We believe that the best way to teach that is to actually give people a job and coach them through it. We help people overcome the barriers that are in their way.
“Giving people a job is not enough. You might say, ‘oh, we've got 100 free Aboriginal apprenticeships’ and that's great, but only 50 might turn up and you'd be lucky if one finishes because there are so many things that come up that just derail people,” he says.
“We’ve found it takes on average about six months to get people job ready and in a position where their life is stable enough to hold down employment. Our program is very holistic.”
Participants in the program spend between three to six months preparing to be job ready. They receive both workplace training and life coaching, and learn skills such as budgeting, nutrition and goal attainment to help them achieve the type of stable, balanced life that can sustain long-term employment.
“We know what we do works because we have a holistic vertical system in place,” says Kurt. “We find them, we support them, we give them pre training and we get them into a job with our social enterprise. Then we slowly support them to the point where we can transition them out into other employment.”
Managing and assessing the ongoing balance between the cost of the program and the true effect it is having on the community is a constant for the enterprise.
“We are trying to understand which things are really making an impact,” he says. “When we first started doing this it was costing about $49,000 per head because we were providing accommodation, everyone had gym membership, we were doing green smoothies every morning and all sorts of stuff.
“But we realised we could probably cut it back to $25,000 a head and get twice as many people through if we just targeted people who had some of those things in place already,” he says. “Now we can help 10 people instead of five and the success rate is also much higher, more like 75 percent compared to 25 percent.”
Participants who are ready are then transitioned out into Worldview’s subsidiary social enterprises, profit-for-purpose IT disposal company WV Tech and recruitment and labour hire company Worldview Pathways.
Recruitment and labour hire company Worldview Pathways is a new addition to the Worldview Foundation family, created to service the continued employment needs of participants.
“We were finding that people didn't want to leave after finishing the program,” says Kurt. “We've got a supportive work environment with a lot of Aboriginal mentors, and they get to play football and do all this stuff that helps build productive work habits, and they just didn't want to go.
“So we created the Worldview Pathways to send little groups out to different employers,” he says. “It slowly transitions the young guys out so they feel, ‘hey, it's not that bad, we can do it’. And it also gives the employers a chance to sort of ‘try before they buy’.”
Employees of Worldview Pathways gain experience in areas such as landscaping and gardening, office moves, commercial rubbish removals and construction.
A view on what’s next
Worldview Foundation currently operates in Canberra, but the two-year vision is to set up similar models in Brisbane and Melbourne. The Westpac Foundation has committed $300,000 over three years to help support this goal and follow on from previous grants, demonstrating Westpac Foundation’s continued commitment to supporting social enterprises that are investing in job creation.
“When we started with our first $10,000 grant, we didn’t realise that there was a possibility of a real partnership,” says Kurt. “But then we had Westpac’s Jason Chuang observe on our board for 12 months, and he's still on our board now as we benefit from his different vantage point and different experience.”
Kurt says that the real advantage of the Westpac grant money is that it's not tied to anything specific and can be used where it’s needed most.
“If you go for a government grant it's all got to be acquitted down to the last last cent, whereas with this money we are free to have a bit of an experiment,” he says.
“But one of the most important things to come from the support of the Westpac Foundation is actually networking. Through Westpac, we’ve met other funders who are now also helping us with our expansion and I think being a multi-year partner with Westpac is what’s given us a seat at the table. It provides us with credibility.”
Find out more about Worldview.