The Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, has praised a local Work for the Dole team for their role in raising funds to assist disadvantaged people in the Grafton community.

The six-month Australian Government-funded project gave participants the opportunity to be trained in the operation of the Riverside Care Bargain Centre in South Grafton, a second-hand store run by the Riverside Church.

Participants were involved in a range of tasks including administration, reception, retail, stores, maintenance, gardening and handyperson duties.

They restored, sold and distributed second-hand goods including clothing, furniture, electrical goods and computers to raise funds to assist the needy in the community.

“The participants have approached this Work for the Dole project with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. They have gained valuable experience in retail, administration and maintenance work, while working closely with Community Work Co-ordinator TURSA Employment and Training Inc., and Riverside Care,” Ms Saffin said.

“With the skills they have developed, and experience gained working in a team and liaising with the community, participants are in a better position to take up future job opportunities. In fact, one graduate has already found part-time work, with another two continuing on to further education or training.”

Ms Saffin said that in line with its election commitment, the Australian Government had reviewed the current employment services.

“Following extensive consultation, the Government has designed a streamlined employment services system to begin on 1 July 2009, which will provide more tailored services for job seekers,” she said.

“There will be greater focus on job seekers obtaining work experience, and Work for the Dole activities will be a key work experience option under the new system.”