Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Today I was in Nowra, which is one of the areas of New South Wales with the highest levels of unemployment and related problems. It’s the location of one of the businesses I’m working with – I’m helping them to make the transition to becoming a social enterprise by proactively recruiting and supporting long-term unemployed people into their workforce.

Nowra is around 2.5 hours from Sydney by car, so it was an early start (6am) and a longish day altogether. It was fascinating to get into regional New South Wales and see a different side to life in Australia. Nowra is a town of about 30,000 people with a range of villages surrounding it, each of about 3-4,000 people. There are big levels of public housing in the area which in Australia, means something quite different to our concept of public housing in the UK. Forget high rises, multi-storey blocks and stone terraces. Think bungalows with little gardens out front and wooden porches. By Australian standards the housing is poor, but compared to the type of huge housing schemes or even smaller estates I’m used to, it’s pretty nice!

Having said that, despite the quality or otherwise of the housing, there are a lot of social problems in the area and part of today was about getting a sense of the challenges that are likely to come up as the business moves towards a model where they go out of their way to employ people that other businesses don’t want to employ – interesting!

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