New partnerships break down barriers to employment for Indigenous youth

NELLEN helps young people learn, thrive, and pursue their aspirations in ways that work best for them. Image credit:

From left: Nathan Honeyman (COMPACT board) Jebb Hutchison (On-Country Pathways), Megan Mulrooney (COMPACT EO), Darren Moffitt (On-Country Pathways), Brian Millar (COMPACT Chair).

COVID has a lot to answer for, not least its impact on young people transitioning from school into employment, according to the heads of our new education and training partners COMPACT in NSW and NELLEN in Victoria.

On-Country Pathways has joined forces with COMPACT and NELLEN (North East Local Learning and Employment Network) to break down barriers to employment for young Indigenous people on both sides of the Murray River.

COMPACT has offices in Albury and Wagga Wagga and works with students and schools in the Riverina Murray region to provide work placements and career development services. Our collaboration will support placements in construction for Indigenous VET students, and other partnership opportunities.

Megan Mulrooney, COMPACT Executive Officer, said: “I think COVID threw up barriers for young people in terms of disengagement with education and online learning, not being able to do work experience and not being able to see people like them doing the jobs they may be interested in,” Megan explained.

“They just need someone to turn the light on, to showcase the types of jobs in each industry and to see role models who are people like them which is what On-Country Pathways will do,” she added.

On the Victorian side of our operations, we have partnered with NELLEN which works with schools, employers, and community to bridge gaps and connect youth with meaningful education and employment pathways.

Bev Hoffmann, NELLEN Chief Executive Officer, said partnering with On-Country Pathways was a “no brainer” for her organisation.

“Because of COVID, the transition into employment has been fraught with extra barriers. Year 11s and 12s haven’t been in a workplace and some are struggling with what to do and how to do it. We need to make sure we do everything we can to set them up for success and give them a great experience,” Bev explained.

“There’s a lot that can happen to reduce a young person’s anxiety around employment and we can see what the On-Country pathways model, with its mentoring component, offers our young Indigenous people,” she added.

Darren Moffitt, On-Country Pathways Program Manager, said: “We are thrilled to partner with such well-established organisations whose values align so closely with our own. This is about supporting our young Indigenous men and women to overcome the barriers and get the best start to their careers.”

On-Country Pathways offers four unique programs to help Indigenous 15–24-year-olds find employment and career pathways into construction and related trades in the Riverina area.  Visit our programs page for more information or contact us for a chat.

Read more about COMPACT and NELLEN.