Safety and employment strategy

JOBS PLAN: Lizette Twisleton (front) with staff from Goonellabah Coles and Woolworths supermarkets looking forward to more Indigenous workers joining them.
JOBS PLAN: Lizette Twisleton (front) with staff from Goonellabah Coles and Woolworths supermarkets looking forward to more Indigenous workers joining them.

A TRIO of ideas to make Goonellabah a happier, safer and more crime-free suburb has been launched, with funding from the Federal Government's Attorney-General's department.

Initiatives to support the Safer Suburbs project include a free TAFE course in retail skills, starting on Monday, October 8, designed to support Aboriginal employment. The course is an introduction to working in shops and will give its participants essential starting skills.

Applications from Aboriginal people in the Lismore area are welcome - and priority will be given to Goonellabah residents.

"We're working with business owners, TAFE, NORTEC and Northern United Rugby League Club to help community members gain skills and confidence to get jobs in Lismore," Lismore Council's youth development officer, Lizette Twisleton, said.

Major supermarkets Coles and Woolies have also come to the party.

As well as offering work to suitable Aboriginal people, they are planning to increase the sense of community at their Goonellabah stores by hosting regular Friday music events in their foyers, featuring musicians from the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and from the Aboriginal community.

"We call this 'soft community development'," Ms Twisleton said.

"It's creating opportunities for more connectedness within and between communities, and a sense of celebration."

Increasing Aboriginal representation in the workforce is just one of three arms to the Safe Suburbs project. The other two are to increase a perception of community safety through events, place-making and beautification, and to reduce crime in the business district.

Ms Twisleton said there had been extensive consultation with young people, parents, teachers, police, shop-owners, youth liaison officers and security personnel with the aim of creating a Goonellabah Youth Protocol.

"This is a document that sets out a code of conduct that will reduce antisocial and criminal behaviour. It will spell out what the community expectations are, covering behaviour in public and private places," she said.

"The way we put it to the kids, is Goonellabah is your home - not just your house, or your street, but the whole suburb. And we're asking them, what would make it feel safer for you?"

The Safer Suburbs project now is in the hands of graphic artists and designers who will come up with the signage, flyers, information sheets and cartoons to explain the project. They are expected to have all the materials ready before the end of the year.

"For now our aim is to encourage Aboriginal people from Goonellabah to enrol in the TAFE retail course. It's open to everyone and it's achievable for the community to break the cycle of high unemployment.

"Having a job is a huge factor in changing people's lives. For us, it's about closing the gap. We want to be part of that solution."

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