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Melbourne social enterprise dedicated to supporting the long-term unemployed

June 1, 2020

Last updated on October 22, 2020

As a rare female professional in the male-dominated security industry, Gina was already the odd one out.

But following a traumatic experience with a previous employer, she became even more isolated and finding secure ongoing work became an ever-increasing challenge.

“I experienced a very difficult time with my old security company and was often made to work in unsafe, high risk environments,” Gina said.

“I witnessed a very traumatic incident while working which caused me a great amount of mental and emotional stress.

“With lack of support from the company, I felt I had no choice but to quit my job and leave the security industry.

“I continued to suffer emotionally and being a single mother of three children I experienced considerable financial hardship – it was tough to get my life back on track.”

An opportunity with Social Outcomes Security (SOS), providing on-site security services to the level crossing removal project at Cherry St, in Melbourne’s Werribee, helped Gina turn the corner.

SOS is a Melbourne-based social enterprise focused on creating employment pathways for disadvantaged and long-term unemployed people in the security industry.

The project enabled SOS to create 12 new jobs (four full-time and eight casual) for a diverse group of employees including refugees, people living with disability, and women thanks to a contract with Western Program Alliance (WPA). Of the 12, seven were women which is a welcomed number in a traditionally male dominated industry.

The contracts arose through Social Traders, an advocacy body that creates market opportunities for social enterprise and business and Government buyers.

“This partnership has been a significant step for us, and in only a short period we’ve seen how beneficial contracts with major infrastructure projects are,” SOS CEO Sam Giacomin said.

“An opportunity is the first thing that people facing barriers to employment need, and from there they really have the ability to grow.

“The structure and routine, as well as knowing that they have an important role to play makes a huge difference. We see our team members develop so quickly.

“We need to do a good job, not just for the employees but because these contracts are important and our business is legitimate. We don’t expect special treatment so our service level has to be second to none.”

Sam said that recent company performance has validated his belief in the social enterprise model. He is confident about creating more employment opportunities even amid COVID-19, with a turnover to date of $310,000 since the business launched in November 2019.

SOS has applied for funding from Working for Victoria to create a training program for people in the security industry with the hope to create new jobs for COVID-19 unemployed people.

Regardless of the outcome of that application, SOS has committed to partnering with Registered Training Organisation (RTO) Youth Projects Australia to fund, develop and implement the program.

“There is plenty of work and a skills gap – so we have been considering how we might address this gap and also create pathways for people impacted by COVID-19, and other forms of disadvantage,” Sam said.

“Security is a great industry to find a job, however the concern is that it can take up to 6 to 12 months to obtain a licence and actually begin working. Security also does not have a traineeship or work experience system in place to support people entering the field.

“We hope to create a security training and field work program where participants obtain their security licence and are simultaneously provided with paid work, as trainees for a 6-month period. At the end of the program they have a security licence, experience in the field and financial sustainability.”

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