Opportunities for disadvantaged Victorians in 2022-23

Learn about how the Government is helping Victorians experiencing disadvantage with meaningful employment opportunities.

The Opportunities for disadvantaged Victorians objective focuses on creating employment for cohorts that are most in need of support. This includes purchasing from social enterprises with a mission to support disadvantaged Victorians and from suppliers creating jobs for Victorians experiencing disadvantage (Note: on 1 July 2023, this objective was replaced with the Opportunities for Victorian priority jobseekers objective).

From 2018–19 to 2022–23, there is an overall upwards trend for direct spend with certified social enterprises led by a mission for one of the disadvantaged cohorts. The reduction in expenditure from 2021–22 to 2022–23 is primarily attributed to a refinement in the reporting criteria for identifying social benefit suppliers in scope for the reporting period. For further information on the refinement to reporting criteria see: Continuous improvement of policy implementation.

Direct spend with certified social enterprises led by a mission for disadvantaged people between 2018–19 and 2022–23

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Graph 2: Direct spend with certified social enterprises led by a mission for disadvantaged cohorts between 2018–19 and 2022–2311

Case Study: Internships building careers and connections to Victoria

The West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) has provided job readiness opportunities to asylum seekers by helping them build careers in construction. Over the course of the project, WGTP has hosted 15 interns as part of the Career Seekers program, with many interns completing multiple internships.

There was a particular focus on supporting asylum seekers through the program, with one third of those interns being asylum seekers or refugees. The interns were provided with the opportunity to learn more about the project and gain real-world experience to help develop new skills and build a career. The majority have then gone on to have paid work on the project.

Karam Benni was one of the interns who sought refuge several years ago and came to Melbourne in 2019. After leaving his home country of Iraq due to security concerns, Karam has faced significant challenges in finding opportunities that aligned with his career goals. However, with the support of Career Seekers and WGTP, he has managed to overcome these challenges.

Karam participated in the Career Seekers program, and during his time made such a strong impression on his colleagues that he was offered a part-time position in design and construction while he continued his university studies.

WGTP’s work in helping asylum seekers build careers, benefits the whole Victorian community by unlocking the talents of those from diverse backgrounds and addressing skills shortages.

Social procurement delivers more than economic benefits. It can help refugees, asylum seekers and others from diverse backgrounds facing employment barriers build a sense of pride and belonging in Victoria. In Karam’s words:

Strategic procurement delivering both social and sustainable outcomes

The Framework consists of both social and sustainable objectives. By incorporating social and sustainable procurement concerns into wider organisational planning, Yarra Valley Water recently demonstrated how multiple objectives can be met through one contract.

When Yarra Valley Water drafted their 2030 strategy, they set out to help communities thrive. Importantly, they decided that “social and sustainable procurement work will be the foundation of thinking about the impact of how [they] spend [their] money”.12 This meant that during the 2022–23 financial year, when the water authority had to decommission 653 laptops, they set out to have the greatest impact on the community possible from both a social and sustainable perspective.

To do this, Yarra Valley Water reached out to Social Traders to find out if a social enterprise could undertake this work. Social Traders provided Yarra Valley Water a list of social enterprises that could generate work for Victorians experiencing disadvantage and help divert e-waste from landfill. Yarra Valley Water settled on Enable, being impressed with their business model that focuses on benefits to the community and protecting the environment.

Enable has a positive impact on local communities through a variety of social and sustainable pathways. The decommissioning and repurposing of the laptops contributed to these actions by:

  • Creating work and offering job training for those facing barriers to employment, especially migrants and those with disability. This occurred through both the decommissioning work and the resale of IT items via The Click – a retail arm that is also a certified social enterprise and aims to create local jobs in a high-unemployment region, as well as providing affordable technology for eligible concession card holders.
  • Distributing devices to communities in need. A particular focus has been on donations to students in need via Banyule Council.
  • Diverting e-waste from landfill. Aside from reselling appropriate items, Enable also dismantled IT products for recycling.

Yarra Valley Water has demonstrated that when agencies build social and sustainable procurement into long-term planning, they are able to deliver numerous benefits to communities. Not only that, but when they work with innovative social enterprises like Enable, they can often deliver multiple benefits through the same procurement.

11: In 2018-19, data for this cohort was collected between January and June 2019 only.

12: Extracted from the Yarra Valley Water 2030 Strategy.