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Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Page: 5355


Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (19:36): Before I begin, I just want the House to note that today is Public Education Day. I would like to wish all of the public schools in my electorate a very happy Public Education Day and also to welcome the Australian Education Union, who are here with us in parliament this week, and to congratulate them on their unwavering dedication to promoting the cause of public education in Australia.

Last Wednesday I attended a Jobs and Skills Expo in my electorate, along with the Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr, and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relation, Mr Bill Shorten. This is a wonderful initiative implemented by this government as part of our commitment to helping people find employment by linking job seekers with prospective employers. Also, it gives young job seekers and even school students the opportunity to get to know what kinds of job prospects, as well as training opportunities, are available to them. Looking for a job or deciding on a career option can be very daunting for people, especially young people, so a jobs expo provides a one-stop shop.

The one in my electorate was, I think, about the 50th such jobs expo that has taken place around the country. I welcomed the minister—who is here, doing a great job. The jobs expo generated a very high level of interest, with many constituents coming into my office to ask for information days before the event actually took place. Its importance lies in the opportunity that it gives job seekers to submit resumes and to speak directly to employers as well as training organisations. Put simply, the expo is a big jobs and skills marketplace where job seekers of all ages and skill levels are connected with a number of employers, employment service providers, recruitment agencies and registered training organisations. Of course, all this happens under one roof and in one day. In fact, some of our local participants described it as a case of job seekers being able to do as much as six weeks worth of job searching in one day at the expo.

While unemployment rates in some regions across Australia have improved, there is more work to be done in many places, including in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs. When one takes into account that about 940,000 people live in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, a jobs expo goes a long way in encouraging people to seek employment and better their qualifications. The Broadmeadows expo allowed constituents the opportunity to take advantage of more than 960 job prospects on offer, encouraged more than 1,300 resumes to be submitted and allowed the 85 exhibitors to directly interact with prospective employees. The exhibitors told me that as a result of the expo as many as 441 job seekers would be placed in jobs. It is important to get the message out that it is never too late to reskill or engage in the workforce, and the expo was a vehicle that helped many people in my electorate to take the first step.

To further encourage participation, exhibiting at the expo was free. As a result, it attracted the attention of a range of employers, including some of the big employers, and I would like to mention them here this evening: BAE Systems, which is a major supplier to the Australian Defence Force; Grocon, Australia's largest privately owned development and construction company, which has—as you would know, Madam Deputy Speaker Burke—built the iconic structures of the Rialto Towers in Melbourne; Bowens Timber and Building Supplies; Bunnings; the Trade Institute of Victoria; Victoria Police; and, of course, Woolworths.

At the jobs expo, a further very important announcement was made: that up to 800 families would receive computers thanks to a partnership between the Australian government and WorkVentures. Senator Kim Carr made the announcement on the day, and the partnership entails the Department of Human Services supplying laptops to the not-for-profit organisation WorkVentures. These laptops are refurbished and sold at a discount price to people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This partnership is a win for everyone. It will help people who are at risk of social exclusion as a result of not having the benefits of technology. I want to thank the chief executive officer of WorkVentures, Mr Arsenio Alegre, who is thoroughly and utterly committed to being involved in this project. He believes that everyone should have access to the benefits of technology and no-one should be disadvantaged as a result of their socioeconomic status.