40 ORGANISATIONS NAMED FOR $2M INCLUSIVE EMPLOYMENT GRANT FUNDING
Group of BackTrack Works program participants preparing for on-the-job training in their local community of Tenterfield, NSW. Photo credit: James Shakeshaft
Westpac Foundation has today named the 40 organisations that will share in $2 million in grant funding as part of its new Inclusive Employment Grants program.
With a value of $50,000 each over two years, the grants are designed to support community organisations and social enterprises building greater social and economic inclusion in communities across Australia through job-creation.
The new grant program has evolved from Westpac Foundation’s long-standing Community Grants program, the key change being a sharper focus on supporting organisations that are creating training and employment opportunities for people overcoming barriers to work. This lines up with Westpac Foundation’s goal to help grant partners create 10,000 new jobs by 2030.
Westpac Foundation CEO Amy Lyden said, “We’ve chosen to direct these grants towards organisations creating inclusive job opportunities because, despite the record low unemployment rate, there are still many people facing barriers to entering the workforce.
“For example, we know that First Nations Australians, people with disability and young people are up to five times more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than the national average1.
“The 40 organisations receiving grants have shown a great commitment to closing this gap by providing opportunities to secure and meaningful work.”
More than 60 per cent of the grant recipients had previously received Westpac Foundation funding, which Ms Lyden said was a deliberate outcome of the philanthropic fund’s aim to partner with organisations over time as they scale, with the hope they will ultimately be supported with a larger social enterprise employment grant.
“We’re excited to continue to support so many of our existing partners to achieve greater impact, and we’re equally thrilled to explore opportunities with a new cohort who we hope to walk alongside as they grow,” Ms Lyden said.
Grant recipients were chosen for their efforts in four impact areas:
- Organisations in rural and regional communities creating greater economic diversification.
- Jobs and skills in the green economy and other emerging and growth industries such as technology and the care economy.
- Programs that build job-ready skills and career pathways for people overcoming barriers to work.
- First Nations enterprises that support local economic participation and connections to Country.
Among the 40 grant recipients is BackTrack Works, a social enterprise established in 2018 to help vulnerable young people access supported training and employment opportunities that builds their skills, qualifications and experience and prepare them for lifelong independence. The organisation currently delivers commerical services and community projects across agriculture, construction, fabrication, disaster recovery and asset maintenance to meet the needs of their customers in regional NSW.
Executive Manager of BackTrack Works Marcus Watson said he hoped the Westpac Foundation grant would be the start of a long-term relationship.
“Partnering with Westpac Foundation gives us the benefit of their expertise and connections across the social enterprise sector so we can continue to innovate, share best practice with our peers and create meaningful employment outcomes for young people doing it tough.”
Ms Lyden said that supporting organisations like BackTrack Works was extremely important to create greater economic diversification in rural and regional areas.
“For many young people in regional Australia the only option of finding stable employment is to leave their hometown and move to a larger centre. BackTrack Works provides an alternative by equipping young people with vocational skills aligned to the regional job market.”
In addition to funding, all grant recipients will have access to non-financial support including skilled Westpac employee volunteers, support to measure their impact, and access to peer coaching programs.
“We know that this grant is about more than just funding,” continued Watson. “Working in a regional area can make it more difficult to access broader networks and skills that would accelerate our growth and impact. This grant will open up some of that access.”
“Like many philanthropic organisations,” said Lyden, “we’re keen to ensure our funding is directed where it can make the biggest impact. We’re committed to collaborating with our community partners, like BackTrack Works, to help build the evidence base and share the impact these organisations are having nationally.”