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Monastery programs helping unemployed


Increasing confidence, developing new skills and contributing to worthwhile projects are just some of the positive outcomes for men and women who have been participating in Work for the Dole programs at The Monastery.

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Over the past two years several projects have been undertaken through the Government-funded program including creating a nature play space, regenerating the garden near Cross Road and general works around the vast grounds.

Most recently, a 26-week program saw an existing building gutted, internal walls removed and insulation installed to create a new ‘Men’s Shed’. An expansive area outside the shed was paved to provide an entertaining space and it is hoped a future Work for the Dole program will result in the construction of a verandah.

Donna Cooper, manager of the Retreat and Conference Centre, said the unemployed involved in the work experience program had done an “amazing job” and added it was great to witness their personal growth during the process.

“It’s really nice watching them grow from someone who can barely speak when they walk through the door because they are so nervous and, especially with the 26-week program, to see their confidence grow – they just blossom,” she said.

“It is such a supportive environment here and a lot of them say they just love coming here because they feel a little bit special, a little bit nurtured.

“A lot of people on the program have never been here before and what we hear often is ‘that’s what is behind that fence’. It takes away the mystery for them.”

Donna said it was a privilege to be asked to provide a reference for those who met the guidelines of the program and because of the skills they had gained were applying for jobs.

Other programs undertaken at the Urrbrae grounds include rejuvenating a “dead patch of garden” near the church into a nature play space for children.

Timber cut down from the grounds was used to make stepping stones and seats, and a boat donated by the Carlisle Group is a feature of the area.

“It links well with the church and the parish. Our vision was that parishioners have a cuppa after church once a month and if the kids are happy playing, the parents will stay,” Donna explained.

“Thanks to the Work for the Dole participants the grounds look beautiful and feel loved.”

The Work for the Dole projects at The Monastery have been coordinated by parishioner Bernie Croese through the training company, the Carlisle Group.




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