Economic Participation and Social Inclusion

Posted: 16/07/2015

Why is this Topic Important? What is the Need?

 ‘We crave the self-respect that comes from being self-supporting and the fulfillment that comes from being able to support those we love. We long for opportunities to express personal ability, to show creativity and initiative. At work we can cooperate and share companionship with co-workers. Work gives a structure to our day and our life. It gives a feeling of competence. It enhances self-esteem.

Work is crucial to our whole identity as a person.’

Hugh O’Sullivan

If community support organisations want to use a social and holistic model in the delivery of services they cannot exclude economic participation.

As at May 2013, there were 660,300 people who are unemployed in Australia of which over 506,000 have been unemployed for four weeks or more. Over 122,000 people are considered to be very long term unemployed. Since May 2008 there has been a steep increase in the length of time people are out of work once they become unemployed. (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2013

Many clients of community service organisations are amongst this cohort of highly disadvantaged job seekers. For example, research by St Luke’s (now a division of Anglicare Victoria) and Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service (Vic) has identified that over 85% of parents who are accessing family support in their agencies are unemployed and/or not participating in any education programs. These studies also showed that many parents aspire to be employed and/or in training but require additional supports to achieve this goal.

Community service clients are over represented amongst the long term unemployed and are increasingly being socially excluded due to non-participation in employment and/or training.

This situation presents a real challenge for community service organisations and raises questions.

Are community service organisations just the providers of support services or do they also have a role in ensuring vocational outcomes for clients?

Whilst many agencies and services support vocational outcomes there are barriers that agencies face in embracing this role. Services are often designed to focus on one particular issue rather than responding to all their clients’ needs and their experience of social exclusion. A firm resolve is required to move workers from responding solely to the client’s presented need (through funded services) for example, their drug problem, their mental health issue, their lack of money – to a more holistic service response. Increasingly, Government policy is focusing on the need for support services (both government and non-government) to become more holistic in approach including supporting vocational outcomes, and to develop more efficient links within and between programs.

We at Innovative Resources want to support all levels of an agency to view their contribution as part of a much bigger picture, resulting in a client-centred focus rather than a problem- or program-centred focus. Why? Because …

  • An agency response to achieving vocational outcomes must include all levels of the organisation.
  • There is a need for workers and managers to reflect on the meaning and role of work; and that an understanding of the importance of work in their own lives will better inform their understanding of client needs.
  • There are practical actions that workers and agencies can take which enhance vocational outcomes for clients.
  • Whilst current service specifications for many programs do not include responses to vocational issues facing clients, workers and agencies can incorporate vocational outcomes as part of everyday service delivery.

Want to know more?

Contact us regarding training possibilities for your organisation.



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