WITH unemployment at a 30-year high in Bass Coast, the council is taking on an extra 101 workers. Thirty-five positions have been filled so far, with the rest to be filled by the end of August. Twenty of the new jobs have gone to women.
The new workers are being employed on six-month contracts under the State Government’s Working for Victoria program. Job areas range from conservation, cleaning and communication to engineering, IT and project management.
With a permanent council workforce of under 300, the work program represents a 33 per cent increase in staff numbers.
Bass Coast CEO Ali Wastie told the Post: “We are trying to do our bit. The revegetation is a really good example of what we can do to maximise this opportunity and find a silver lining in a dark time.”
She said the program had been a boon for the council in terms of picking up local talent and for local workers who’d lost their jobs as a result of the lockdowns.
Looking for work?
If you’ve lost your job, or your working hours have been affected, Bass Coast Council wants to hear from you.
Visit the Working for Victoria website, follow the “I’m looking for work” prompt, where you will be able to register and list your skills and experience. Once registered, you will be matched to available jobs that are relevant to your skills and experience.
Future projects include removing woody weeds from around a large wetland and assisting the South Gippsland Conservation Society with revegetation at a bushland reserve in Wonthaggi.
Other recruits have bolstered the council’s cleaning staff meaning the team can clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces more often, including playgrounds, outdoor furniture, barbecues, railings and skate parks.
Ms Wastie said there had been a positive response from the new recruits. “I’ve had emails from people saying they’re really enjoying their time with that council, that they’ve have a very warm welcome. We hope this will be a really positive experience for a lot of people that will give them an income, skills and experience.”
With a local economy reliant on tourism and hospitality. Bass Coast is one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic and lockdowns. Not surprisingly, it was one of the first councils to be approved for the program. One of the criteria for inclusion was that councils did not shed staff because of COVID.
From the start of the crisis, Bass Coast councillors were adamant that there should be no job shedding, Ms Wastie said. “As a council we understand we have a key role to keep as many jobs as possible and not add to the long queues outside Centrelink.
“I know of families that have lost both incomes, other families where sons, daughters, parents have all lost jobs. If we can help 101 people that’s well worthwhile.”
The program funds employment for six months, so the first of the council temporary workers are due to finish their posting in early December. The council will review the local impact of the program and ask the State Government to extend it, if necessary.