Empowering the community - Melton Specialist School upgrade

Tuesday 2 February 2016

The school children at Melton Specialist School in West Melbourne have a beautiful new school environment thanks to a group of participants in the Australian Government’s Work for the Dole programme and the support of their local community.

The Work for the Dole activity referred to as ‘Empowering the Community’ ran from January to June 2015 with assistance and donations from a variety of local businesses and organisations including Bacchus Marsh Lions club, Bunnings and the Metropolitan Remand Centre.

Heather Chambers, who is the Work for the Dole supervisor, and a qualified horticulturalist and trainer, was responsible for getting Melton Specialist School programme off the ground. She describes the results of the activity. ‘The school grounds are beautiful, with colourful murals that brighten the assembly area, flourishing vegetable beds with bench seating, plants, paths and bike sheds’ Heather goes on to say ‘the feedback from the community has been nothing but positive. It’s incredible what the community and the participants get out of it.’

Three workmen tending to a vegetable garden Picture of the school yard

Above photos: Work for the Dole participants worked hard to provide a great new school environment

The participants were involved in all aspects of the school upgrade and learnt many new practical skills as well as developing important work habits such as working in teams, time management, and importantly building self-esteem. Meeting and working with new people and finding new avenues to apply for jobs was one of the key benefits of the programme and has led jobseekers to further study and work.

One former Work for the Dole participant, Matthew Brown, enrolled in a Horticulture course at a Community College in Bacchus Marsh after completing the pilot programme. Matthew is now employed at Melton Specialist School as a supervisor for the second Work for the Dole programme which began in September.

‘Matthew has his life back on track’ says Heather ‘which is a great outcome; networking, meeting new people, training and now working.’

Matthew Brown, a participant in the first Work for the Dole activity
Matthew Brown, a participant in the first Work for the Dole activity is now employed as a Supervisor at the second activity at Melton Specialist School.

Jobseekers in the second Work for the Dole activity will benefit from Mathew’s previous experience and the school will continue to receive much needed assistance to maintain the school grounds and start new projects.