23-year-old Luke is one of 20 young people who work at ReBuild, one of the participating social enterprises in the Payment By Outcomes (PBO) Trial. Based in Melbourne’s West, ReBuild is a civil construction social enterprise that aims to reduce recidivism by providing young people who have been involved within the criminal justice system with a pathway to reintegrate back into the community through training and employment.
Luke has been fortunate enough to avoid prison however he has seen his fair share of courtrooms. Living with significant mental health challenges, Luke sought refuge in drugs from the young age of 13 and often found himself on the wrong side of the law. At 22, he made one of the biggest life changing decisions to “get clean”.
“I could tell it was affecting the people I love around me,” Luke says. “In the end, I came to realise that the drugs I was using weren’t more important than my life or my future.”
Luke has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and a gastroenterological condition, which makes it hard for him to maintain long-term employment. In August 2022, he secured a job with ReBuild through a referral made by his Disability Employment Provider, Matchworks Sunshine, and life has started to look a lot different.
“There is no comparison between my last job and this job. When it comes to work, the inclusiveness of the staff, the care that goes into everything, looking after each individual crew member, and the work itself. It’s just not comparable.” says Luke.
Luke is part of a landscaping and maintenance crew. The variety of the work and the people he is surrounded by is what keeps him engaged. His crew leader is Saute Sapolu, an ex-offender who has turned his life around through the support of ReBuild.
“The work here is different. People that work here get it. They have work ethic, they’re really great people, they’ve been through stuff, so they’ve got a good perspective on life.” says Luke.
The wrap-around support provided to ReBuild employees is a defining feature of a jobs-focused social enterprise, and what separates these businesses from other employers. They can include onsite counsellors, case managers, increased flexibility and greater understanding and consideration of an individual’s circumstances.
ReBuild offers employees individualised and unique supports to ensure a seamless transition back into the community following criminal justice experiences. There is a case management team onsite who are involved with each employee from the start of their employment journey, addressing any barriers to their progress. They work alongside individuals to establish goals regarding their tailored plans. It is important employees are involved in this process to increase motivation, commitment, legitimacy and quality of the intervention. It also allows them to take accountability and ownership of their own pathway.
Luke has been working alongside case manager Kim Metzler, “Luke is a very personable individual and gets along well with the team. Luke does have challenges with his attendance at work and it’s a goal we are working on currently through ongoing case management support.”
For Luke, this level of care and support is felt across the organisation, “If anyone needs support at ReBuild, it’s not just the usual ‘are you okay?’ that most employers would ask and never follow up. ReBuild makes sure they follow up. This applies to the staff and the crew leaders. I’ve experienced this first-hand.”
As one of 15 social enterprises participating in the PBO Trial, ReBuild is paid directly for the job outcomes they create. The payments are designed to help cover the costs associated with the wrap-around supports, which are key to creating a more inclusive work environment for people like Luke.
Mick Cronin, the Executive Manager for YMCA Youth Services highlights the importance of ReBuild’s participation in the Trial, “The PBO Trial is providing the platform for YMCA ReBuild to demonstrate our innovative approach to the employment and support of young people with disabilities involved in the criminal justice system.”
“It is providing the financial backing required to deliver positive outcomes in the creation of career pathways, reduction in recidivism rates whilst diversifying our target cohort in the process. We look forward to building on the success of the trial and the opportunity to positively changing the lives of even more young people with disabilities in the future.” says Mick.