GJK is a privately owned Australian company operating in the cleaning and related soft services industry since 1985. The company has focused on giving back to the community by undertaking partnerships with the Victorian State Government and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence to provide opportunities to people experiencing long-term unemployment.
In early 2003, GJK tendered and won the Victorian State Government Office of Housing’s Cleaning, Grounds & Maintenance, and Waste Management Contract at Melbourne’s Collingwood and Atherton Gardens Public Housing Estates. As a part of this agreement GJK undertook a public tenant employment program (PTEP) that ensures a minimum of 35% of their staff are engaged from the long-term unemployed living within the public housing estates. PTEP was developed to offer public housing tenants an alternative to welfare dependency through empowering them in their own living environments. PTEP also aimed to increase social and economic investments being made in housing renewal across the State.
Employing society’s most socially and financially disadvantaged – some of whom were 2nd or 3rd generation unemployed, required significant innovation, planning and leadership. GJK identified a need to work as part of a collaborative partnership to wholly understand the issues of the estates and ensure the success of the project. To this end GJK worked closely with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, who provided valuable insight into the difficulties facing tenant employees, many of whom struggled against issues such as language and literacy, mental health concerns, cultural differences, childcare challenges, and drug and alcohol issues.
This partnership was instrumental in not only providing employment to residents, but also in helping them develop training opportunities through registered training organisations such as TexSkill, who provided employees with opportunities to undertake relevant certifications. This in turn opened up career pathway opportunities through CERT III and IV qualifications.
Following the implementation of the program a tenant survey found the estate employees to be committed and reliable, with an average increase in satisfaction of more than 30% across all buildings in three estates.