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Using local knowledge to build a better job agency

'When the organisation's culture can support an employee, great things can happen.'
Dixie Patten, Rumba Ripples

Top tips

  • Local connections can be an invaluable problem solving tool
  • A person's ability may only surface when they're given responsibility
  • When the organisation's culture can support an employee, great things can happen

Rumba Ripples employment program

Rumba Ripples is an employment initiative of the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club.  The club has well over 400 players and social members, many of whom are of working age, yet are unemployed or underemployed. The club feels that, when compared with mainstream employment agencies, it’s better placed to find meaningful and sustained work for club members and the Aboriginal community because:

  • it provides a culturally safe place in what can be a challenging environment
  • it can provide long-term support (mentoring, transport, medical, general follow up etc.) that may be needed for sustained employment
  • the broader community, government and the private sector strongly support it
  • it uses merit-based selection.
The club works closely with local business to find jobs for Aboriginal participants. It targets jobs in the private sector that will provide meaningful work and career pathways.

Dixie Patten's story of growing confidence and success

Dixie is a 48 year-old Aboriginal man from the Shepparton area.  Dixie is the father of five, and now is the sole parent for Daniel, his youngest. Dixie has had a long history of unemployment and health issues.  While Dixie has also had a history of work and study, his health has led to long-term unemployment, so much so that he was finding it hard to even get an interview.

RadCom, a not-for-profit charity in Shepparton delivers the Rumba Ripples project in partnership with the Rumbalara Football Netball Club.  As Dixie is an ex-Rumbalara footballer and well-connected in the Shepparton Community, RadCom thought he would be the perfect person to give a chance in a new role in the organisation.

Dixie mentors and supervises young, at-risk indigenous boys.  The boys respect Dixie. As he understands the family ties for each individual he can use his knowledge of their support networks to get positive results.  Dixie also works in our employment program helping young people get to job interviews and helps people get resumes ready.

The rigours of work, managing family expectations and being a leader in the Yorta Yorta community haven’t been without challenges for Dixie. Early in his employment, learning a new job and getting into a routine were challenging. However, Dixie was determined to get it right and has managed to juggle the competing demands.

Dixie’s health and outlook on life have dramatically improved since his employment with RadCom. The responsibility of raising a son in his final years of secondary school and holding down a job means Dixie is eating better and keeping to a routine. He relies less on prescription medication.  Dixie is also encouraging his kids across the state to take their work and their health more seriously.

Since being employed Dixie has managed to find long-term accommodation – something he’s been unable to do for over 20 years.  He has been able to monitor his son’s school attendance, which has significantly improved.  Dixie is now more involved in the community, and is now the assistant coach for the under-14’s at the Rumbalara Football Netball Club.

The result

The supportive nature of RadCom and the club has meant Dixie is able to use his new job opportunity not just to help local Indigenous boys, but to help himself. The local community, the job agency, the club and Dixie's family all benefit.