The COVID-19 lockdown meant fewer working hours for James Williams in his former role conducting surveys in the Aboriginal community at Aboriginal Housing Victoria.

Jobs Victoria Advocate James Williams is based at Killara Foundation in Richmond.

Jobs Victoria Advocate James Williams is based at Killara Foundation in Richmond.

Then his Jobs Victoria Mentor recommended he apply for a role as a Jobs Victoria Advocate with the Killara Foundation. It was a perfect match.

The Killara Foundation assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have sustainable employment by providing them with guidance, cultural understanding and housing while they work, or until they are ready to live independently.

Softly spoken, you’d never guess that James once competed at the highest level in boxing and was even in training to make the Australian Olympic team. He still enjoys his boxing and the chance to coach and mentor the Fitzroy All Stars kids as they make their way up the ranks in the sport.

Although he only began his new job a month ago, James knows that being a Jobs Victoria Advocate is going to be rewarding — a chance to give back to his community and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Helping inner-Melbourne’s Aboriginal jobseekers find work and a home

During his induction period with Jobs Victoria, James experienced firsthand the important work the Killara Foundation does. He got to live at Urban Nest, a shared home for young Aboriginal workers who have recently found employment through the Foundation or are seeking a job in Melbourne.

“Staying at Urban Nest was a great opportunity for me to learn more about my role and some of the program’s success stories," says James.

"Having completed my training, I’m looking forward to getting to know my clients and working closely with them to improve their living and working conditions.”

“For now, I’m forming relationships online and hopefully soon, that will change to face-to-face.”

Culture, community and country

The more an Aboriginal person is connected to their culture, community and country, the more likely they are to succeed and grow. That’s certainly the case with James who’s proud to talk about his country and people.

“My Nan on one side is Yorta-Yorta and Grandpa is Wiradjuri. On the other side, Nan is Gunditjamara and Grandpa is Gunai,” he added.

James’ strong cultural bond with his heritage and links within Melbourne’s Aboriginal community makes him an ideal Jobs Victoria Advocate and community engagement champion.