The Maryborough Neighbourhood Renewal Team have been using Getting Ahead in their community for three years now.  Their program has been so successful they were last year awarded the inaugural Joan Kirner Social Justice Award, pictured below.  Social Solutions had the privilege of providing the very first Bridges Out of Poverty training to the Maryborough community over four Layout 1years ago, and has since been involved in the training of several hundred service providers in the local area.

This has been a result of the initiative and hard work of the Neighbourhood Renewal Team in conjunction with the Central Goldfields Shire Council as well as the Maryborough Education Centre, and a number of other key stakeholders and supporters.  The work they have all done within and across sectors to address disadvantage and build practitioner and community capacity represents a shining example of a true Bridges Community.

JKAward2012MaryboroughThis central Victorian project is working to combat the causes of generational unemployment.  Maryborough has a disproportionately high rate of generational unemployment, the local Neighbourhood Renewal Team says.

“Despite the availability of jobs locally, rates of unemployment and disengagement from education and training have remained amongst the highest in the state,” the team said in their award submission.

“Employers are desperate to fill positions. They cite instances of people leaving within days of starting a new job and cannot understand why unemployed people do not take up the available job opportunities.”

The Getting Ahead project is designed to help people who have experienced generational unemployment to understand the impacts of their disadvantage and learn the “rules and behaviours of the middle class”, or life skills, that are needed to get and keep jobs and training.

Ten months after the introduction of the first program, seven of the 15 participants were in full time employment and the remaining eight were in accredited education or training.

‘Health and wellbeing are up, drug and alcohol use are down, and there have been vast improvements in relationships and civic engagement’, says Maryborough Neighbourhood Renewal Place Manager Margaret Kent.

jkawardThe Joan Kirner Social Justice Award recognises those people and groups who are emulating the lifetime work of former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner AM in bridging the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” in Australia. “The key factors to success in this award are respect, inclusion and collaboration,” the former Premier said.  “As the Maryborough team has shown, social change initiatives work best where the process of change is owned by those affected by the change.”

The announcement of the 2012 award winner was made by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard MP, at the Communities in Control Conference in Melbourne on May 29, 2012.

From the 2012 Joan Kirner Social Justice Award Acceptance Speech…

…I’d like to thank Nairn Walker from Social Solutions. I’m sure many of you are aware of Nairn Walker running Understanding Poverty programs.  Getting Ahead, this program that we’ve won the award for, is part of the Understanding Poverty suite of programs. Nairn has worked with us to raise awareness of Dr Ruby Payne’s insights into the issues presented by economic and social disadvantage in our community.
                                           Neighbourhood Renewal Place Manager, Marg Kent (pictured below)
Click here to see the 2012 Joan Kirner Social Justice Award
JoanKirner Youtube Image w arrowIntroduction: Carol Schwartz, Founder and Chair,
Trawalla Foundation; Founding Chair, Our Community
The Announcement: Prime Minister of Australia,
The Hon Julia Gillard MP (Video:3min36sec)
The Winner: Maryborough Neighbourhood Renewal: 
Place Manager
Margaret Kent (Video:6min20sec) &
   ‘Getting Ahead’ participant Kaz Huges (Video:11min40sec).
Click here to see transcript only  (PDF 420kb)
Click here to play or download audio only (MP3, 6mb

How do I contact them?Maryborough NR logo

Employment & Learning Coordinator Matt Broad has now facilitated a number of very successful Getting Ahead courses in Maryborough.  Matt’s colleague, Community Engagement Officer Naomi Crew, has also since trained as a Getting Ahead Facilitator.  Along with their Manager Marg Kent, they are all really excited about the capacityof this program to empower people with skills and strategies, and to support other communities looking to do the same thing.  They are very happy to talk to anyone who would like to learn more about their experience and can be contacted at the Maryborough Neighbourhood Renewal Office on (03) 5461 2406, via email: [email protected], [email protected] or by clicking on this link to connect to their Facebook page.