[Sub ID 4412] Small business mentoring and support (Lighthouse Foundation)

Submission ID: 4412
Organisation name: Lighthouse Foundation
Contact name: Ms Michelle Michie
State: VIC
Contact email: michellem@lighthousefoundation.org.au
Contact number: 0390937500

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young parents, Young students at risk of long-term unemployment

What need or issue are you trying to address?
Our program helps extremely vulnerable young Australians gain their first foothold into employment. Lighthouse Foundation has helped more than 800 young people, over 25 years, successfully transition from lives of chronic trauma and homelessness into education, employment and independent living. As well as providing a home with long-term intensive support for young homeless people aged 15-22 years, we also specialise in providing tailored accommodation and 24/7 care for young homeless mothers and their babies. Our holistic therapeutic care model, with local community committees for our homes, works effectively to find connections for our young people.

We understand that without our intervention, these young people are at extremely high risk of developing chronic conditions such as depression, anxiety or substance addiction that will restrict their capacity to secure stable work and live independently without government assistance. This is particularly true for young homeless mothers who are highly susceptible to post-natal depression, which can impact their ability to care for their children.

Our experience has demonstrated that the young person’s first big break into paid employment can have a profound impact on their future life prospects as it creates enormous leverage for their skill base, work ethic, confidence and subsequent employment and educational opportunities.

What is your idea?
For the ‘My First Job’ initiative, Lighthouse Foundation will partner with the Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS)who have 30 years experience working with more than 30,000 businesses, mainly in Victoria, but also in Tasmania and NSW. We recognise that small business owners are reluctant to bear the risk of taking on first-time employees from disadvantaged backgrounds without additional support. SBMS has an experienced task-force of 200 trained mentors who work one-on-one with small business owners,as well as offering trainings and workshops through the Small Business Institute (TSBI)with 24,000 members.Small businesses contribute 41% of all employment nationally, yet are usually left out of employment schemes because it is too costly to reach and service thousands of individual employers, each with only a small number of employees. However, SBMS mentors have regular, face-to-face contact with thousands of such businesses and have unique knowledge of their challenges and needs.

The ‘My First Job’ project streamlines the path for small business employers to gain extra staff and expand their business and for young Australians at risk of chronic unemployment to prepare for a professional career and gain their first critical foothold into paid employment. SBMS mentors would work alongside the Lighthouse Foundation team to identify the right match of employer and employee. The business mentors would receive training from Lighthouse in effective ways of overcoming the challenges these young people face in beginning their first job. The businesses would receive a payment to train the person for 6 months. For the next six months, there would be an incentive (such as superann and workcover costs covered) to employ that young person if they wished to continue.

As our young people acquire paid employment through this program, it will inspire other young people in a similar position to extend their opportunities and follow suit. Once we train employers and provide them with a positive experience, the door may be opened for more disadvantaged young people to follow.