The Southern Melbourne region has one of the highest unemployment rates in Victoria.
This is despite having around 180 programs to address disadvantage in the region, and paradoxically, a known range of entry-level vacancies that employers can’t fill.
In some pockets of the region, the unemployment rate exceeds 20 %
Over a quarter of families with children under 15 are jobless
40% of people have no post-school qualifications
We started the project by summarising what was already known about disadvantage in the region (from statistics and previous reports).
Then, we tested the results through stakeholder research which uncovered enough insights for us to develop seven evidenced-based prototypes that could address disadvantage in the region. Our insights from research and stakeholder testing have led us to develop six evidenced-based prototypes that could address disadvantage in the region.
Addressing disadvantage in Southern Melbourne needs different approaches to create real outcomes.
We identified six action areas:
Access to transport – and transport that connected job seekers to employers
Understanding manufacturing as a key current and future employment engine
Responding to the diverse reasons for why people are unemployed
Recognising the importance of networks for employers and jobseekers
Addressing the fragmentation and difficulties with navigation in the current service system
Focusing funding on transformative outcomes rather than short-term outputs.
In this project, we mixed statistical data analysis with insights from employers, service providers and service users. We used the combined data to identify and test key action points that could shift outcomes in addressing disadvantage in the region. From this investigation we developed six prototypes.
In Australia, the most disadvantaged communities have remained in the bottom 10th percentile for the past two decades, despite significant investment and countless programs.
It’s time to do things different – to connect up data with insights from people at the frontline. It’s time for a different kind of action that actually creates outcomes.
Based on these action areas we developed some initial prototype projects that could, together, demonstrate how moving beyond traditional approaches could shift outcomes:
An employment focused community transport initiative, developed by and with employers to connect local people to local jobs
A campaign to promote a thriving local future for manufacturing and showcase employment pathways with local manufacturers
A platform to connect employers and jobseekers – bridging the gap between employers who are filling vacancies via their extended networks, and unemployed jobseekers, who often have fewer networks that stretch to employers
A local ‘career support’ model that is demand-driven, person-centred, not school specific and that has direct links to employers
An innovative impact-focussed hiring process that assists local employers to fill vacancies and links local people disadvantaged in the labour market to quality jobs
A local commissioning framework that joins up services for outcomes.
Most responses are planned and then rolled-out for piloting, meaning that we don’t know whether they will work to achieve outcomes until a great deal of money and time has been invested.
Prototyping offers a way to try, test and learn about potential solutions quickly and with a relatively small investment.
However, it also requires a degree of openness to try something different and confidence to learn by doing. So, the response to this project was for one local body to prototype just one response, so that they could build their confidence and capacity in prototyping. The outcomes from this prototyping phase have not yet been released.
The next steps
We now have a strong base of evidence about what works, and what conditions and capabilities need to be in place to support local organisations and institutions to undertake a collaborative approach.
We are now seeking places who wish to go further than undertaking insights work that could support better outcomes – but who are willing to try, test and learn in the process of implementing transformative services and structures that could deliver better outcomes.