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14 May 2020
ParentsNext is a Federal Government program delivered by Employment Plus in Adelaide since 2 July, 2018. It offers all parents that have been receiving parenting payments for over six months, whose youngest child is under six years of age, coaching sessions to help them set education and employment goals and provides assistance in achieving them.
Employment Plus ParentsNext Team Leader, Vanessa Kearney, said Employment Plus coaches are based at Ingle Farm Corps, Gawler Corps, Parafield Gardens Corps, Playford Corps and Semaphore Corps. They are supporting between 600 and 700 families, referred to them by Centrelink.
“It’s really interesting, as parents come to the appointment because Centrelink has told them that they need to attend, and in some cases they are very defensive and a little bit disgruntled ... but once we talk with them and they realise that we’re here to help and assist them achieve their goals, they tend to go: ‘Wow, this is great!’”
She said partnering with The Salvation Army’s large network of services has been invaluable, with many ParentsNext participants being invited to join corps playgroups, financial counselling services and other programs.
“I think the strength of our Salvation Army support services, along with the experience our coaches have, makes us well placed to achieve some good outcomes,” Vanessa said.
“We have regular meetings with participants to determine an action plan, and in some cases we may have funding available to assist.”
This was evident in the case of one woman who was supported in working towards completing a Certificate IV in Business Administration, which she said she could never have afforded otherwise.
“It’s also about getting those people that are isolated out of the house,”Vanessa said. “You may have some non-English speaking people that have only been here two or three years and they don’t know how to go about sourcing a familiar group to engage with, so it’s our role to research and find something that suits them that will assist them to grow in confidence and skills. It could be a parents group, it could be a cooking group, it could be things such as Salvos financial counselling, anything that is relevant.”
Despite only being in operation for a few months, ParentsNext coaches in Adelaide have assisted many parents to source employment. They have also been able to refer some mothers to domestic violence counselling and have helped others gain the skills and confidence to be job-ready.
“It truly is transforming Australia one life at a time,” Vanessa said. “But we can’t do it alone, and that’s why we love partnering with all of our other Salvation Army expressions and services, and services from outside the Army as well. Anything that can assist to transform a person’s life for the better!