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Real impact: MiHaven

MiHaven is a construction company specialising in design, procurement and construction of cyclone rated tropical designed homes and community buildings in Far North Queensland. Its MiLife Change Program helps chronically unemployed indigenous Australians enter long-term sustainable employment in construction and related industries by delivering a comprehensive, industry based, accredited training program embedded with life skills over a 16-week period. It’s an innovative dynamic private sector model benchmarking social change driven by industry and community initiative. It’s jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland’s Department of Education, Training and Employment, and tackles the barriers that prevent indigenous job candidates from finding, and retaining a job to build a long-term career. On completion of the apprenticeship program, graduates attain a Certificate II in warehousing and construction.

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Indigenous unemployment

There is a large Indigenous population in Far North Queensland who experience high levels of unemployment and social disadvantage. Long-term unemployed Indigenous Australians face challenges in actively participating in, and benefiting from, the regional economy. The indigenous unemployment rate in Cairns is 22% compared to 5.5% for non-indigenous people.

Positive impact

MiHaven inspires success and encourages others to achieve. It delivers a best practice program, and achieves real social and employment outcomes for indigenous Australians in a practical way. Around 90% of trainees graduate, and 80% of them remain in long-term employment. Trainees learn to confront their multiple personal barriers, including a lack of work experience, extremely low literacy and numeracy, scars of domestic violence, chronic health issues, and addictions to drugs and alcohol. Overall well-being activities such as fitness and nutrition are also addressed. Capacity is improved and opportunities are increased.

MiHaven is closing the gap by increasing education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians. From an economic perspective, each indigenous jobseeker placed by MiHaven benefits the government by almost $24,000 per year through reduced welfare and increased taxes. The reduced costs of incarceration are estimated to be close to $7000 per year, and suicide levels are also reduced.

Personal impact: Dreams can come true

SamSamptonSam Sampton was born and raised in Cairns. He’s the eldest of three children, and has family on Badu one of the larger Torres Strait Islands. He had always dreamed of a career in construction. So when he heard about the MiLife Change program through regional employment specialist NEATO Employment Service, he immediately applied.

Upon starting the program Sam said, “My motivation is to gain full-time work and get off the dole.” Sam’s dream came true. Since completing MiHaven’s training in retailing, warehousing, and construction he has worked with the Gumba Gumba Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders constructing a building at the rear of their offices. Of the construction training Sam says, “I’ve learned flooring, concreting, tiling and plumbing. I really enjoy it. I’d like to have my own building company one day.”

“Sam’s story is just one example of the success of our program. The chance for new vocational skills and eventual long-term employment creates room for brighter futures”, says Sarah Mort, MIHaven Co-founder and Director.

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