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Working for Victoria Boosts Buloke

Working For Victoria Boosts Buloke

Publish Date: 30 October 2020

The Buloke Shire has received a major boost thanks to the employment of an additional 50 people through the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria Program.

The $500 million initiative, launched by the Victorian Government in April of this year, was established in response to the impacts of COVID-19. The scheme matches jobseekers with employers who are seeking staff and is of six months duration. The program also supports people in upskilling and returning to the workforce.

Since mid-June Buloke’s staffing increase has brought significant benefits for both the organisation and region as positions have been filled both locally and from further afield.

The biggest impact has seen a 66% increase in the number of outdoor staff. An additional 30 workers have enabled the backlogs to be cleared whilst valuable skill sets have been added thanks to the previous backgrounds of new employees.

Setting in place easy-to-maintain regimes while extra hands are available will help streamline a variety of operations for when the program ends.

With local or neighbouring town workers comprising the majority of placements in the outdoor teams, the program has also provided employment for travellers who were caught on-route as the COVID-19 lockdowns came into force.

A broad age range, covering from retirement to early twenties, has included retrenchments, university students, where face-to face learning was put on hold, as well as with those re-entering the workforce. The outcome has been increased productivity and a sense achievement and value, with Buloke residents being the big winners.

Participants have also had the opportunity to upskill with a range of recognised training courses fitting them for future employment this program ends.

A suite of projects has added a gloss to the Buloke surrounds with parks and urban fixtures looking in peak condition, beautification upgrades and low maintenance plantings revitalising townships, and clean-ups on Shire land addressing safety issues leading into the fire season.

Additional outcomes include:

  • Drainage maintenance in Charlton, Nandaly and Sea Lake
  • Additional  toilet and amenities cleaning, with the lakes toilets being cleaned daily
  • Installation of new soft fall at playgrounds
  • Tree planting projects being carried out in the Birchip, Charlton, Donald, Sea Lake and Wycheproof
  • The ability to carry out multiple works projects at the same time – ie: slashing, the operation of six graders and line marking on Shire roads
  • Landfill and saleyards maintenance and mowing
  • Tree trimming in Birchip, Sea Lake and Wycheproof.

Feedback from both residents and participants have been overwhelmingly positive, with outcomes exceeding expectations.

The Shire response to the local impacts of COVID-19 has also seen the development of a Business Support Team and the Community Support and Recovery Team, both staffed through the Working for Victoria program.

Lead respectively by Brett Schofield and Rebecca Postlethwaithe, the teams have formed strategic plans to aid and support businesses, and assess the needs of the wider community as the pandemic crisis unfolds.

Developing a dedicated resource where businesses can seek guidance, clarification and assistance, the Business Support team centrepiece has been the launch of the “Buy Buloke” website which emphasizes the “support local” mantra. A work-in-progress, the website is evolving to accommodate multiple needs for business owners and consumers alike.

Maintaining community connection through information sharing and building pathways has seen the Community Support and Recovery Team working on multiple initiatives. Development of a Relief and Recovery Plan, discussing COVID Safe plans with community groups, carrying out a Service Gap analysis, updating the Community Directory, and instigating community outreach programs have prepared a basis for a return to a COVID- normal lifestyle.

The team is also collating a detailed report from data collected on the impact of COVID-19 on the Buloke Shire which will lay the foundation for use in any future recovery situation.

Jason Delaney 2

End release 
For further information contact Manager Customer Engagement, Travis Fitzgibbon on 03 5478 0181 or tfitzgibbon@buloke.vic.gov.au