Jobs Victoria has launched an extensive suite of new and expanded services to help Victorians get back to work, including a workforce of more than 100 Jobs Victoria Advocates.
Based in northern metropolitan Melbourne, Teyra Jasso is one such Advocate and is passionate about helping others.
This brand-new role sees her providing jobseekers with much-needed empathy, understanding and practical support by breaking down barriers to employment wherever she finds them.
“The northern suburbs of Melbourne is a big area,” she says – and she should know, since she’s been busy doing the rounds at public libraries and community centres lately, spreading the word about Jobs Advocates and what they can do for jobseekers.
She’s also been interviewing asylum seekers and refugees who have been supported into housing in these suburbs by the Bridigine Asylum Seeker Project, a partner organisation of her employer, Jesuit Social Services.
As an Advocate, it’s her mission to find out how she can help them secure steady employment and set them up to achieve their long-term career goals.
“They don’t have too much information about the services available to them, so I’ve been trying to supply them with websites and information about their options,” Teyra says.
“Most of them are looking for ‘survival’ jobs at the moment, but they would like to go on to build careers in areas they are interested in.
“I think that’s why a Jobs Advocate is important for them – so I can listen to them and try to understand their situation, their work history and experience, and how they can use it to find meaningful work here.”
Breaking down barriers to employment for all Victorians
Breaking down barriers to employment can mean all sorts of things, depending on the individual Teyra is working with.
For example, she might refer someone to an English course to get their language skills where they need to be for the types of jobs they are applying for. Or she might suggest a service to jazz up their resume.
“I just had a meeting with one participant today – he’s very young and has just graduated, so he really doesn’t know where to look for a job,” Teyra says.
“He explained that he’s applied for 100 jobs. It seemed a lot but it was because he wasn’t selecting the right roles. He was applying even if they asked for a lot of years of experience.”
After some discussion, Teyra discovered the young man had been sending out the exact same resume to everyone. So, she found a service close to his house that will help him populate it with key words to target the specific positions he’s applying for.
Helping jobseekers navigate employment services
Teyra says her own migrant background gave her “the spark” she needed to apply for the Advocate role through Jobs Victoria partner, Jesuit Social Services, not to mention the empathy and understanding to approach jobseekers on their level.
She had to figure everything out for herself when she first came to Australia, and often wished for someone to talk her through the services available.
“I know what it feels like to not know how to apply for Centrelink support, or even what that is,” she says. “And it’s not just migrants, because there are many Australian citizens who have never used those services before, and who now need to because of COVID.
“So, I think when you understand that someone doesn’t even know that something exists – and you know how it feels to be lost in the middle of all the information around – you know how to explain, how to approach them.”
Personal, one-on-one support
The most important thing Teyra thinks Victorian jobseekers should know about Jobs Advocates is that they are offering individual, one-on-one support to anybody who needs it.
“I think this idea of having someone to answer your questions is really good, and people really need it,” she says. “So, come and look for us. There is a phone number and an email available, and we’re going to put up some fliers on community centre noticeboards so you know where to find us.”
Take the opportunity to use this service, she urges, even if you’ve tried other jobs services in the past – because that one-on-one attention and contact makes all the difference.
“This is a much more personal interaction, so that gives us an opportunity to really understand your situation and needs so we can try to fit you and direct you into the right services,” she says.