Getting back on their feet

Arts Minister Tony Burke, Footscray Community Arts Executive Director and co-chief executive. Bec Cole, Fraser MP Daniel Mulino, and Footscray Community Arts artistic director and co-chief executive Daniel Santangeli. (Jacob Pattison) 393005_02

Melbourne’s west is full of resilient people getting through tough times with the help of social enterprises.

Employment and Workplace Relations and the Arts Minister Tony Burke and Fraser MP Daniel Mulino spent the morning of Tuesday March 5 visiting Braybrook employers Green Collect and YMCA ReBuild, both of which are social enterprises that employ some of the most disadvantaged people in the community.

Green Collect repurposes office items destined for landfill into useful products, among other things, while YMCA ReBuild employs young people who have been caught up in the criminal justice system and gives them a trade.

“Breaking that cycle of crime by giving young people a meaningful job and reintegrating them into the community is so powerful,” said Mr Mulino.

Employees work on major construction, landscaping and maintenance projects. In the ReBuild shop are woodwork items – from chess sets and coffee tables to furniture and plant pots – custom-made by young people at Ravenhall Correctional Centre.

Mr Mulino said the stories from employees of both organisations about how their lives had been transformed because of the opportunities they’d been given were inspiring.

“Majok, Jack and Luke talked about how important ReBuild had been in given them a second chance. They are enjoying being in the workforce, contributing to society, and their hard work is being rewarded with promotions,” he said.

“Jack’s story was particularly impressive – he had been in and out of jail since he was a young teenager but he has now been with ReBuild for nine months – the longest he has stayed out of jail.”