When you’re gazing at a newborn, returning to the office is often the furthest thing from your mind – but as mum-of-two Lucinda Anderson knows, when the time comes to return to work, it’s good to be prepared.
The ParentsNext program offers parents of young children the chance to access and be prepared for fantastic work opportunities, through training, support and guidance in a range of areas. While news broke this week that the program will soon be rolled out nationwide, Logan parents have been benefitting from this program for some time.
Lucinda now works with the Logan Together Backbone Team thanks to a traineeship she accessed through YFS’ ParentsNext program. Working in administration and supporting all members of the team, she has empowered herself by working to help empower others with the goal of great outcomes for Logan kids. Her role – and the way she got there – is perfectly in alignment with the Logan Together Roadmap for Change goals of great Family Foundations and a Strong Community. Hers is just one story of success from ParentsNext in Logan.
Lucinda said she was feeling under-confident after having her two children, Tommy and Marley, and spending seven years out of the workforce.
“After such a long time out of work I was very nervous about returning to office work and my ability to communicate with people over the age of three,” she said.
“ParentsNext helped me to get some of my confidence back and realize that my skill set extended beyond cutting crusts off bread, filling up cups of milk and talking about Thomas the Tank Engine!”
Lucinda heard about ParentsNext on local mums Facebook page, Mums n Bubs Logan.
“I was interested in returning to the workforce but not having much luck in getting anywhere so I made an appointment – I was not sure how to fill the gap in my resume and what to do about references as I had lost contact with most of the people I had worked with previously,” she said.
“Taking that first step can seem difficult at the time but the team are really there to help you, to look at your long term goals and how they can help you get there. They have a lot of experience in navigating childcare and Centrelink and will offer any assistance they can.”
Judith Hunter from Logan organisation YFS, said the ParentsNext program supports parents of young children so that the transition is easier and they are better prepared when they return to the workforce.
“Our team can assist with everything from literacy and job skills, to increasing confidence and helping with resumes, and enrolling in kindergarten,” she said.
“Some changes announced in the recent budget also give participants access to up to $1200 which can be used for a wide range of things linked to preparation for their careers – whether that is training, professional clothes, childcare, petrol for their first week in work – it’s fantastic for them.
“It is wonderful for us to be able to help women get back into the workforce, or into training or education – it gives a great boost to them and allows them to feel more confident applying for jobs, attending interviews – and starting down that employment path.”
Lucinda said her three days a week at work provided her with a good balance.
“My house is a lot less tidy than when I wasn’t working! But I really love it,” she said.
“I get to talk to adults every day, I have a small amount of money to spend that is my own, and I am contributing to an organisation that helps people in my community which is really rewarding and I feel like I can give back. My children also get to play and learn at kindy which is really good for them.”
The ParentsNext program is a Federal Government Program which is also delivered by Access Community Services, Accoras, Mission Australia, OCTEC Ltd, Job Prospects, Workways Australia and Wesley Mission. For more information, head to www.jobs.gov.au/parentsnext, and please see below for some more information about the ParentsNext program.
Sharon Worboys, Communication Specialist – Logan Together Backbone Team 0402 809 099
Key facts about ParentsNext
ParentsNext helps parents improve their work readiness so they are ready to move into work when their children are older. The ultimate aim is to help parents live independently in paid work.
There is no compulsion for parents to get a job unless they want to – the focus is on moving towards work readiness by the time the youngest child turns six.
Parents on a government Parenting Payment who have children aged under 6 can participate in ParentsNext.
- Centrelink refers some parents as compulsory participants
- Other parents on Parenting Payment can sign up as voluntary participants and receive the same benefits.
ParentsNext case workers help participants identify their goals and come up with a plan about how to achieve those goals.
The plan sets out the activities the parent wants to undertake. These range from attending playgroups to enrolling in training or actively looking for work, depending on the parent’s interests and goals.
The ParentsNext program includes a Participation Fund to help parents implement their plan. They can access funds to pay for training, cover work-related costs, pay for driving lessons or overcome barriers that impact their ability to work. Other options include learning parenting skills, seeking counselling or addressing health problems – the guidelines are very broad.
ParentsNext staff are very knowledgeable about child care, Centrelink, training options, local services and work opportunities.
- Access to the Participation Fund to improve work readiness or overcome barriers to work
- Wage subsidies for employers who take on a ParentsNext participant as an employee
- Support and knowledge from case workers
- Practical help and training about things like resumes and online applications.
Reporting and obligations
- ParentsNext compulsory participants’ plans include at least one compulsory activity that they are obliged to do. Parents are expected to attend their ParentsNext appointments and do activities agreed in their plan as a condition of receiving Parenting Payment.
- The compulsory activities don’t have to relate to work or training. Many parents need to focus on their own health first or on their children’s wellbeing, so their activities might be attending playgroup or parenting courses, or seeking help with health or other problems.
- From mid 2018, compulsory ParentsNext participants must report fortnightly to Centrelink using an online form
- The form asks about their earnings in the period, any changes in their situation, and whether they have met the requirements of their ParentsNext participation plan.
- These reports are compulsory – payments can be affected.