Sustainable Jobs For Vulnerable Sunshine Coast Young Veterans

Sunshine Coast charity STEPS Group in Caloundra will help secure sustainable jobs for vulnerable younger veterans on the Sunshine Coast following a grant of $103,452 from the Federal Government. The grant, delivered under the Supporting Younger Veterans program, was announced by Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace at the Caloundra RSL Sub-branch today.

Mr Wallace said that the grant will pay for a nine-month pilot program under which STEPS will recruit and train a Sunshine Coast veteran to work in their employment services division and support fellow local veterans at risk of poor mental health into long term employment.

“To make a difference and create a solution, you have to fully understand the problem. Who better to understand the challenges that Sunshine Coast veterans face than one of their own? This program is going to be delivered by a local veteran, for local veterans, and I’m sure it is going to transform lives here on the Sunshine Coast.” Mr Wallace said.

The Supporting Younger Veterans Program supports the needs of younger veterans as they leave the Australian Defence Force and integrate back into civilian life. A total of $1 million was available nationwide in the 2019-20 funding round to support young veterans with mental health challenges.

“Even before this COVID-19 crisis, some of our young veterans were suffering significant challenges finding work, significantly increasing their risk of poor mental health and even suicide. We know that a meaningful and rewarding job is one of the best ways to reduce these risks and, at a tough time in the jobs market, that is what this program is all about.” he said.

The project will use the internationally acclaimed Individual Place & Support (IPS) model, which supports people with mental health challenges into employment through intensive, individual support, a rapid job search followed by placement into real jobs & paid employment plus time-unlimited in-work support for both the employee & the employer.

Kerry Staines, Chief Executive Officer of STEPS Group Australia said “We know this model works in Australia because we’ve been doing it for over nine years. We’re really excited at STEPS now to try this model with young veterans to have success for them with employment and with great mental well-being.”

Since 2008 STEPS has provided IPS to 680 individuals with diagnosed psychiatric disorders, consistently achieving employment outcomes between 45 to 60%, or up to 3 times more than placements for the same cohort using traditional vocational approaches.

Peter Kennedy, President of Sunshine Coast Young Veterans said “Young veterans are not broken. We have a few scratches. Some of us are a little bit bent out of shape. But we want a sense of purpose and that is what this program can give us as young veterans. Young veterans value respect, loyalty, teamwork and integrity; all of the things that you as an employer want in your employees. If you work with them and help them back into shape, you’re going to get a great product for a long time.”

Caloundra RSL Sub-branch and veteran’s not-for-profit SMEAC Inc. will assist with promoting the program among local veterans aged 18-29.

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