Otways project will help jobless and environment

YOUNG Colac and district jobseekers could have a chance to gain work experience and an income in the Otways next year through the area’s first Green Army project.

Nine job seekers or school leavers aged between 17 and 24 will gain selection for the Green Army, providing six months’ employment and helping to protect the Great Otway National Park and surrounding environment from noxious weeds.

Colac job agency WDEA’s Trudi Perkins said the Green Army initiative could be a great opportunity for the district’s young unemployed people to develop work skills and routine, while boosting their resume to help them find a job in the future.

“What it does is get them back into being at work on time, and the whole process will help on their resume and helps us market them to employers,” she said.

Conservation Volunteers Australia regional co-ordinator Heidi Snow said her organisation would host the Green Army which was a Federal Government work-ready program open to Australian citizens or permanent residents offering “practical work experience to benefit their personal development and the environment”.

Ms Snow said young people could gain training and experience that could help them to enter the workforce or improve their career opportunities, while also helping control weeds like blackberries, gorse and broom in the Otways.

“This opportunity will be working through the central Otways as part of a co-ordinated effort with local groups, landholders and land managers to target weeds of national significance,” she said.

“Participants on this project will be helping to protect Victoria’s iconic Otways National Park and adjacent habitats while learning valuable practical skills in plant identification, weed treatment methods and flora and fauna surveys.

“Participants will receive training and experience in removing and treating weeds, applying chemicals, restoring natural environments as well as first aid and workplace health and safety.

“Participants on the program are paid an allowance, and we equip them with all uniforms and required safety gear.

“It’s open to anyone; school leavers, gap-students, graduates and job seekers.”

Ms Snow said other regional Green Army projects had attracted more applications than places, available but applicants went through an interview process which could help with future job interviews.

“We know that past participants have gained work through people they’ve worked with or gained employment in that area,” she said.

“The program definitely gives participants a confidence boost and we’re strict on them turning up on time; they gain a valuable reference from their supervisor if they have good attendance.”

Ms Snow said the Green Army youth workplace training program would start in Colac on January 25 and young people could apply online at www.conservationvolunteers.com.au/green-army

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