Employment opportunities are rare in community
Welfare dependency is common for Aboriginal people living out of the big centres in the Northern Territory and Freddie is no exception. Dependent on the dole for most of his adult life, Freddie explains there are few ‘real’ employment opportunities in the community where he lives. Freddy has worked for the dole on the CDP program for over 25 years, where people are trained and paid by the government, but in his mind, CDP is about setting people up to get a real job.
To be on a part time contract is a big thing explains the Remote Laundries Project Manager Fiona Ainsworth who says that most people in community who work are on casual employment. Part time guarantees Freddie 15 hours week and he has regular working hours, paid holidays and sick leave. Adding the apprenticeship to his contract makes these exciting times for Freddie.
“I want to do this apprenticeship to prove I am the right person to do the job. I can do training for a year and get that certificate to prove that I can do this in the future” says Freddie.
Leader in promoting the laundry
Freddie has been a leader in encouraging people to use the laundry which is steadily growing in popularity. Like all new things, it takes time for people to see its value, but Freddie has worked hard to get the community on board.
Laundry use was very slow to start explains Freddie who taught people about how to use the laundry. “Every Wednesday I drive the bus and pick up people and their clothes from around Barunga. I drive around and see if a family is sitting down and waiting, and then I come and pick them up. Otherwise people will flag me down and say they have clothes to be washed. Some people call me on the phone too and ask me to come and get them. The bus is good at helping people to use the laundry”.
Training for the future
Freddie has also been training the kids from the school in how to use the laundry. “I have my granddaughter learning too, she is only nine and she picked it up straight away when I explained how to work the machines. In the future they may want to work instead of running around or working with CDP out in the hot sun. It is under the cover and it’s easy to look after. Its more about them getting a job than them washing their clothes”.
Laundry supports other services
The health clinic, school and aged care are all relying on the laundry team to help with washing too. “The clinic is using the laundry to target vulnerable groups in the community. They give me a list of people to visit and take their washing to the laundry and bring it back to them” says Freddie.
Onward and upward
“The laundry may appear a small project, but the impact it will have on this community is big. It’s about sharing ideas that are realistic to the needs and capacity of the community. We are starting small, but the idea has huge potential” Steve Smith, AIG CEO.
At AIG we hope that there are many more people like Freddie who are wanting to work for themselves and their community. We congratulate him for all that he has achieved so far. It’s only the beginning Freddie – onward and upward mate!