Culturally diverse City Start program creates strong community links

Epping job seeker Sepehr Maddox says he feels more confident about achieving his employment goals after completing the six-week City Start employment program which was a collaboration between Melbourne City FC and local employment provider MatchWorks.

Fourteen participants completed the City Start program which combined intensive employability training and community migrant supports with weekly football training sessions for male job seekers aged up to 31 years old. The program finished earlier this month and was a follow-up to the successful CitySisters program which ran last year.

City Start participants with Melbourne City FC coaches after their first football training session.

City Start participants with Melbourne City FC coaches after their first football training session.

Five participants gained employment and a further six participants took on study opportunities. Other participants were linked with important community and health services to help meet their goals of finding meaningful employment.

Sepehr, 22, came to Australia with his parents and sister four years ago to escape religious and political persecution in Iran. He spent time with family in Perth before moving to Melbourne to chase his dream of becoming a fashion photographer.

He started a Certificate II and III in Security during the City Start program, and is awaiting an opportunity to undertake a Bachelor degree in Media and Photography.

Sepehr said the employability training, which included resume writing, interview techniques and networking with employers, was extremely valuable.

“For me, the most important part was the actual classes. Ian helped me a lot with writing resumes and it was really helpful to understand how to do interviews and how to introduce yourself to employers,” he said.

“At the moment I’ve started the security course and there’ll be opportunities for interviews and work after that, but my goal since I left my country was to become a professional photographer in fashion and I’ll continue to work towards that.

“I was pretty happy with the program, and what we learned really motivates you to look for a job.”

Participants also linked in with community services which helped them break down cultural barriers, integrate with the community and gain access to important services including legal, health and financial assistance.

Melbourne City FC Head of Community, Sue Crow, said participants had a range of positive outcomes after completing City Start.

“These men represented a range of culturally diverse backgrounds and football was a great way for them to connect with the community, build new friendships and find new employment opportunities,” she said.

“We’ve continued to have exciting results with not only this program but City Sisters as well, and one of the most positive parts of both programs was the focus on health and fitness.”

MatchWorks Acting Executive Director Mark McCoy said participants from both City Start and City Sisters had impressed trainers and employers during the programs.

“The guys heard from employers and government agencies, and they visited community organisations to get a feel for services available that will make their lives easier – and we know that was really valuable for this group,” he said.

“We’ve formed a strong partnership with Melbourne City and we’re pleased to be able to create programs that really change people’s lives for the better. Participants have either gained meaningful, lasting employment or connected with community services that will help them get into work.”