Passionate David gives indigenous job seekers a fair go

We recently caught up with David Johns, our Hobart based Project Coordinator for Jobs, Land and Economy – part of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy. David filled us in on what exactly it is he does and what drives him to make a difference.

What do you do at STEPS?
We train, prepare, assist and mentor indigenous clients into work.

Do you have any special memories of helping someone find work?
I ran in to a guy once, a past client of mine, who had been unemployed for 936 weeks. That’s almost 18 years. He asked me if I could help him find work. I knew someone who owned a saw mill so I called him up and asked if he’d be willing to give this man a go. The saw mill owner said he would, so long as he could make it into a trial that day. By 4:30pm he’d offered the man a job and 4 years later he is still working at the saw mill. Getting that job changed his life. There are a few that are special to me.

What have you found most challenging about helping people to find work?
Trying to help someone who really doesn’t want to work is hard. It’s really difficult to motivate someone to work when they’re friends and family aren’t working. Peer pressure plays a big part in it and breaking that cycle takes guts, but when someone is ready to take that step it can make such a big difference to their life.

You work with local businesses every day, what has surprised you most about working with businesses in your area?
There are employers out there who simply aren’t willing to give someone a go, but then there are others who understand the difficulty some of our clients are having and are willing to give them a chance.

What do employers like most about working with STEPS?
The fact that we mentor our clients for the first 12 months of there employment ( and sometimes the employer as well). We work with the employer to iron out any issues, and we make sure their employees stay on track. Our employers find this hugely valuable as it helps them to run their business smoothly and it helps create good, long term employees and relationships all round.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to do the kind of work you do?
Coming from a family of 9 (the youngest) we struggled to get by. So when I was 15 I left school and started seasonal work picking and packing apples. When that finished I started working as a storeman and worked there for the next 3 years. Then, when I turned 18 I became too expensive to employ anymore and I lost my job. I was unemployed then for 2 years. I’m passionate about what I do because I’ve been there, I know it’s hard and I know what my clients are going through. I can relate to them.

What do you do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy watching my sons play football and my daughter playing netball (although the netball refs don’t always appreciate my enthusiasm!). I used to play a lot of different sports but now (I’m to old) I enjoy a game of lawn bowls and go fishing when I can.

What might your colleagues or clients be surprised to know about you?
That I hate talking about myself! I can talk about what I do for hours because I’m so passionate about it. I’m a doer rather than a talker – that’s me in a nutshell.

If your business is interested in taking on our skilled job seekers, contact our team today.

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