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Deadly Yakka: Reshaping Working Lives

When Mount Druitt job seeker Shanae walked through the doors of Employment Services Group (ESG) in February 2017, she was a parent of five wanting to return to work but felt her professional appearance was holding her back.

The Indigenous job seeker was also focused solely on finding employment to earn a set amount of money.

Indigenous Employment Consultant Helen Edwards suggested that Shanae take part in the specifically designed Indigenous employment program named Deadly Yakka to improve her confidence and skills.

Deadly Yakka participant Shanae.

“Shanae’s views on employment throughout the program soon changed. She realised that employment not only offers financial stability, but it also assists to reshape your life and enables you to provide for your family and the future,” Helen said.

“From the beginning, Shanae stood out as a job seeker that needed some simple guidance to the array of potential employment opportunities that would accentuate her obvious natural talent in engaging with people. All Shanae needed was the extra bit of confidence on how to research the ideal role and how to present herself at job interviews.”

“Shanae is a real people person and advocates really well. She even supported and encouraged other participants in the program to see the bigger picture and the opportunities that lay head once they the gain skills to progress to employment.”

Shanae’s Path To Employment

Shanae completed Deadly Yakka in February 2017 and overcame her barriers to progress to the Woolworths Indigenous Recruitment Program. She completed two weeks of training and work placement before successfully interviewing and gaining a position at one of the new stores in Western Sydney.

Shanae is still employed six months on and is often the first to put her hand up for extra shifts or to fill in for staff at short notice, even though it requires a two-kilometre walk to her bus stop.

“Shanae has become such a strong and supportive team member, and her managers have glowing reports of her enthusiasm and dedication to the brand and to the store. She has increased her working hours and is now less dependent on Centrelink benefits,” Helen said.

Shanae is just one example of how the Deadly Yakka program is paving the way for Indigenous job seekers to find and maintain meaningful employment.

What Is Deadly Yakka?

Since launching in the Melbourne suburb of Preston in February 2014, Deadly Yakka is now offered nationally and is continually rolled out at MatchWorks and Employment Services Group (ESG) locations.

The purpose of Deadly Yakka is to bring communities together and to give Indigenous job seekers a supportive network to make the transition into stable, ongoing employment.

It begins with a launch, where guests are greeted by a traditional welcome and smoking ceremony by local elders. Clients then undertake two weeks of program content and coaching around presenting themselves to employers.

Content covers includes goal setting and personal development, life skills for work, interview skills, cultural awareness training, presentation advice, workplace expectations and job search skills while also addressing personal barriers to understand what has been holding participants back in their journey to work.

The program has already seen successful outcomes at Victorian, Queensland and South Australian MatchWorks locations. This year, the program has also been delivered across ESG locations in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.

Deadly Yakka launched at ESG’s Mount Druitt branch in late February 2017 and was led by MatchWorks team members Ian Winter and Irene Sazdov.

This article appeared in REALISE magazine Issue No.2.