Perseverance and resilience rewarded with national award

[by Hayley Maynard]


Image: supplied

Jascinta Jones, a 41-year-old Indigenous woman from Redcliffe WA, has a lot to be proud of as she reflects on her journey and the challenges she overcame to achieving her long-term goal of full-time, sustainable employment in the lead up to the celebrations of NAIDOC Week 2021.


Jascinta, a single mother, spent four and a half years in prison for armed robbery. She had little education or work experience, and when she was referred to employment services provider atWork Australia in mid-2015, she had just been released from prison, had no driver’s license or transport, little support from her family or community and did not have custody of her son.


In early June, Jascinta was recognised in achieving her long-term employment goal with the Achiever of the Year award at the 2021 NESA awards held in Canberra. Every year, the National Employment Services Association (NESA) brings employment services providers, employers, and allied services together to honour and acknowledge exceptional achievements in the realm of employment.


“My advice to anyone with a background like I had is that it does not have to be a path to continue as there are great people with great support, great organisations and great companies that are willing to give people like myself and others a second chance in life to help create a new path,” says Jascinta.

Despite a challenging outlook Jascinta, who was fit and healthy and into mixed martial arts and keeping active, was at all times focused on her goal to improve her situation and make her family, including her son, proud.


During her time looking for work, Jascinta experienced several false starts but she continued to work closely with atWork Australia’s Indigenous Employment Services (IES) team.


The IES team, which is dedicated to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians into meaningful work, guided and supported her through the job seeking process, as well as providing mental resilience training and ongoing support and advice.


Jascinta drew on the principles she had learnt to keep positive and remain focused and eventually landed her current role as a full time FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) Room Service Attendant for Sodexo in August 2019. She again showed this resilience and determination, failing her driver’s licence four times.


She now has passed and has recently purchased her own vehicle – a huge achievement for her independence.


atWork Australia nominated Jascinta for the award with Group Executive Michael Kolomyjec saying we are ‘genuinely so proud’ of her achievements.


“Her journey to employment was challenging following her release from incarceration, however she showed real perseverance and resilience to achieve her goal of full-time employment. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow in confidence, knowing she is making a difference to her life as well as her family and community.”


Jascinta was overjoyed to be nominated, and very appreciative of the award. “I was given a second and third chance of a lifetime with work – of which I will never take advantage. I received great support from great companies that are willing to give people like myself and others a second chance in life to help create a new path. I am truly thankful to people around me who believe in me.


“Jascinta started with Sodexo in August 2019 as a Remote Service Attendant after completing a 3 week Ready to Go program through atWork Australia and South Metropolitan TAFE which includes mine site training, personal development, physical fitness training and hospitality skills,” says Nicola Larg - Indigenous Employment and Programs Specialist – Australia Energy & Resources, Sodexo.


“She quickly became a valuable asset to the team on site, with positive feedback being reported from her onsite supervisor. Since then, Jascinta has proved she is a reliable and dependable FIFO employee, something we are truly grateful for. FIFO life is not for everyone and has its challenges. Jascinta has settled in very nicely and was encouraged to join our onsite Safety Team.”


NESA Chief Executive Officer, Sally Sinclair, said the awards were a chance to recognise so many in the sector that absolutely deserved it. The stories of acceptance and resilience that came out of every award ceremony were truly inspiring and deserved to be acknowledged.


“Jascinta’s story is one that will not only inspire but provide hope for so many disadvantaged job seekers out there still grappling on their journey to finding fulfilling employment,” she says.

Jascinta has become a strong advocate for other Indigenous people to follow her path toward employment. She has encouraged other Indigenous job seekers to seek assistance while becoming an advocate for atWork Australia.


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