Work for the Dole – Part 2
When I worked in Work for the Dole, also nicknamed by many as Work for the Coffee Scroll (amongst others) and when I would deal with clients, I often had to talk fast to deliver information, ask questions, head off their “Oh poor me” “reactionary responses.”
The method to which I would do HR (Human Resources) for example went like this;
“What kind of work have you done previously? Study, training?”
“What kind of work do you want to do in the future?”
Now, I hit them quickly with these questions because in my area, the north of Melbourne at the time (2003-2005) many of my clients were lucky to have finished Year 12, which is the end of High School.
I don’t know about everywhere else in the world or the history in the world but completing Year 12 alone doesn’t set anybody up for much in life.
The answers I would often be given was that they had experience as a gardener (lawn mowing, etc) but they didn’t want to do anymore gardening as they complained of a bad back and they had no preference what kind of work they wanted to do.
Now, I was good at my job (yes, I’m bragging) but I couldn’t pluck a job or career out of nothing. They needed to give me something and I can guarantee “those clients” were still doing gardening and getting paid cash. Which they were not paying tax or declaring to Centrelink, which would have in time meant they wouldn’t be required to do Woke for the Dole.
So, on this particular day, this client was very slow in answering and no matter the questions I asked, he couldn’t seem to get his head around what I want of him. I worked it out that he needed me to speak slower and ask one question at a time. It was a very slow and painful process, probably more for him than me, as it turns out. He spoke very slowly and haltering.
I later debriefed Frank that the client might have had a car accident or fried his brain on drugs. I knew neither at the time nor did I know much of anything to do with ABI/TBI/etc.
What I was able to work out from his answers, was he had experience in gardening, but wanted to be a mechanic. He lived miles from anywhere but would ride his bike to any work I found for him. (He also didn’t want to do gardening) but I had to be creative as there were little if any Not for Profit’s in the area so much was his isolation to anything really. Any wonder he couldn’t find work.
So, I got on the phone and asked questions of people, made some new friends and found my young client a placement. Winning! Again, keep in mind, limited options.
I found him a little placement doing some gardening around a monument on the edge of the road. An older gentleman was to keep an eye on him. He wasn’t to baby sit him but monitor him several times over the two days (15 hours) per week and make sure he knocked off each day at an appropriate time.
It was probably an easy task for him and rather quiet and lonely, but I also think it was what he needed at the time, knowing what I know now.
Frank told me later, not having done the interview with the client but being told by the person who did that, he had huge scars on his skull and I imagine he probably shouldn’t have been required to do anymore than take time out and “recover”. But anyway, that did not happen.
One day, some time later, I was in the outer office with the two other ladies that worked there, this particular day, Frank was working from his office. He called out
“I love you”
Thinking What? “Sexual harassment in the work place? What is this?”
Now, to say all those things, would be an injustice. Frank is a nice, married man, Italian Catholic man with two young children (at the time) and I knew he wasn’t creepy. So, I call back,
“I love you too Frank”
I looked around at the two other women and they gave nothing away and I got up and stuck my head around the door into his office. It would seem that client I had worked really hard to get him a placement, they had helped the guy out and helped him get an apprenticeship as a mechanic.
Now, clients would come and go.