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Community investment

Many of hands and many piggy banks

WISE Employment is committed to and passionate about helping the most disadvantaged through specialist employment and training programs and partnerships.

We are a not-for-profit organisation. Since 2001, we have invested more than $3.5 million in innovative community programs, community projects and community research to help the most disadvantaged. Our partners are proud of the support they have given and the remarkable achievements of the disadvantaged people that have engaged in our programs, funded through WISE community investments. See below a snapshot of some of the community success stories created through like-minded organisations partnering with us.


The key to positive change in our community is through partnerships with organisations that share our passion and belief that with the right support, people can become more self-reliant, improve their personal, social and economic circumstances and ultimately become self-sufficient. This result enriches the whole community.  The organisations that partner with us come from all levels of government, universities, public and private organisations, the community and through private philanthropy. 

Read more in our Community Investments overview

If you or your organisation is interested in working with WISE Employment to support the most disadvantaged people through community investment projects, please complete our form to become a community investment partner.

Who we help

There are many groups of people in our community who need the highest level of support to be self-sufficient and empowered through employment. These people are under-serviced through existing public and private sector programs. Sadly, they “fall through the cracks” and remain disconnected from the labour market, their community and risk living unfulfilled lives. We are proud of the work we have done to help refugees resettle in Australia and thrive, as well as helping Indigenous youth gain meaningful work.The people we help include:

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Koorie Night Market Participant

The Indigenous community

We believe the needs of Indigenous Australians are mirrored in the needs of non-Indigenous people in the development of vocational and non-vocational skills leading to sustainable employment. This is why we fund programs to reduce the cultural, educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Read more in our Closing the Gap report

Koorie Night Market

Melbourne’s Koorie Night Market aims to improve the economic and social standing of up to 100 Indigenous stall-holders, while having a positive impact on the Indigenous community, the general community and local business.

Piloted in 2008 in the City of Darebin through the Darebin Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Community Council (DATSICC), we provided the Market with more than $90,000 to fund two part-time Market Coordinators and a part-time Project and Volunteer Coordinator.

Stall holders have also learned about pricing, merchandising, marketing, promotions, taxation requirements, legal structures, small business law and financial management for small business.

Koorie Night Market Inc. operates markets throughout Victoria. Also, three programs have been developed by Koorie Night Market Inc. to meet stallholder business and cultural needs: The Living Cultures Program, The Koorie Excellence in Arts Program, and a Mini Market Program.

Please visit Koorie Night Market for more information www.koorienightmarket.com.au

Biripi Elder, Sandy Myers is a stall-holder at the Koorie Night Market. She shares her story here. Read Sandy’s story

Former programs

From the Canvas to the Gallery

From the Canvas to the Gallery was a career-focused life skills and arts training project, supporting young Indigenous women in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Over four days in 2009, participants were trained in traditional and contemporary Aboriginal painting by experienced artists and guest speakers. They visited galleries, cultural centres and art suppliers and learnt teamwork and communication skills and explored goal setting.
Indigenous Youth Peer Leadership Pilot Project

In 2009, we funded the Indigenous Youth Peer Leadership pilot project, a work-focused life skills and leadership training program, supporting disengaged Indigenous youth in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Jointly delivered by Relationships Australia and the Northern Territory Police, the participants were mentored by Indigenous elders. They undertook work experience at Desert Park, where they learnt how to grow native food or served as volunteer Rangers. The project aimed to create role models within the Indigenous youth peer group and promoted physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The Shed Project

In 2008, we funded The Shed project in New South Wales, supporting Indigenous jobseekers with disability. Participants received formal horticultural training and landscaping experience. The project promoted improved physical and mental health and wellbeing, better lifestyle choices and strengthened skills for gaining and maintaining employment.

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Community Garden Participant

People with disability

WISE funded the establishment of a school organic vegetable garden in Hobart, Tasmania. Jobseekers from WISE Employment’s Disability Employment Services and primary school students volunteer their time to the project, assisting in planning, preparation and maintenance of the garden under the guidance of a community garden consultant.

The project allows jobseekers and students to build on their social skills while working in teams to produce healthy food for the wider school community to enjoy. Food which is grown from the garden will be used in school meals. This innovative project encourages participants to learn about health and nutrition in a supportive environment which promotes personal development.

Read more about the garden project.

The Bowden Brompton Living Paving Project (South Australia)

Funded by Western Futures, this six-week live paving project focuses on developing the skillsets required for entry level employment in the building and construction industry.

This program is being delivered in partnership with local community organisations and businesses. Seventeen participants are working through a Certificate II in Civil Construction at the Bowden Brompton Community Centre whilst completing the paving project. By linking our participants to vocational and non-vocational training, ongoing support and employment opportunities, this program is a wonderful example of collaboration that is a win-win-win for individuals, employers and the community.

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DiversityWISE Participant

Asylum seekers and refugees

A majority of refugees who settle in Australia may have a history of trauma, lack of English skills, poor health and carer or parental responsibilities. Recognising this group as highly disadvantaged, our programs have successfully helped refugees resettle in Australia, thrive and become self-sufficient.


DiversityWISE is a personalised employment program, providing employment support and training to Darwin’s refugee community.

Started in 2010, DiversityWISE helps participants to find and keep sustainable jobs by recognising and valuing their previous skills and experience. DiversityWISE addresses barriers to employment and offers participants a personal volunteer mentor to help build their self confidence, gain a better understanding of Australian culture and create new opportunities for development.

DiversityWISE has a trained and equipped mobile volunteer workforce delivering around 1,800 hours of mentoring and publicly reinforcing the value of supporting refugees. The program has been developed and delivered with assistance from the Department of Multicultural Affairs - Chief Minister’s Office Northern Territory, the Burmese Community Council, the Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory, Multicultural Council Northern Territory and the Melaleuca Refugee Centre.

The DiversityWISE program has shown continued success in helping refugee participants feel secure and be socially and economically included in the community. A common anecdote among DiversityWISE clients is that they are happy to be, “safe and to wake up in the morning to go to work without fear of being persecuted or killed”.

Read how Hassan Bulhan Ali has built a new life in Australia after fleeing Somalia as a refugee.


Read how employment helped Mostafa Sheikhi integrate into Australian life.



In recognition of the ongoing success of DiversityWISE, The Northern Territory Government, through the Department of Business and Employment, has provided a grant (July-December 2012) for the DiversityWISE program to continue providing vital services to Darwin’s refugee and migrant communities.

Charles Darwin University is evaluating DiversityWISE, and will report on the benefit of the program and a viable model that is demonstrating economic and social success for participants, the community and government which may be utilised for other client groups with multiple and complex needs.

Read more about DiversityWISE and the 'New job, new life' short film project.

Click here to watch the ‘New job, new life’ short film.

Read about DiversityWISE case studies in 'Refugee Success Stories'

Employment Program for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

From 2004 to 2009, WISE was the primary sponsor of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), employment program at West Melbourne. The ASRC offers food, shelter, legal advice, employment assistance and medical help to those seeking asylum. As asylum seekers are not eligible for Government funding, the ASRC is primarily staffed with volunteers.

In 2008, we launched the employment assistance program, a pilot program providing customised case management for 20 asylum seekers and refugees. It included skills training, a structured mentoring component and candidate advocacy and support. The program successfully trained and placed most participants in sustainable employment.

Wondatir Felek Haile was assisted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in 2008. Read more of his story.

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Two young women laughing

Young people

For young people with disability, vocational development and entry into the workforce can be a daunting prospect. Thankfully our mentors can provide significant help through coaching,  training strategies and role modelling behaviour to help young people with disability excel in employment.

Youth Mentoring and Employment Program

In 2008, WISE funded the Youth Mentoring and Employment Program in Launceston, Tasmania. The program ran for 12-months offering mentorship and coaching for young jobseekers with disability.

Mentoring partnerships were formed around each person’s specific interests and values. The volunteer mentor acted as a positive role model for the young person, building their confidence, helping them to identify their own strengths and assisting them to find and maintain rewarding employment.

By recognising their own strengths, the young participants identified ways to achieve their goals. Some returned to school, some gained employment and others entered into formal training.

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Formal research partnership with Deakin

Formal evaluation of our community investments is important to our ongoing success. We need to know that we are investing in the most positive ways to help the disadvantaged in our community achieve on-going and satisfying work.

Our partnership with the Social Exclusion Group of Deakin University’s Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, aims to make sure that we:

•influence government policy and program development
•identify models of good management and good practice
•develop working partnerships between non-government bodies and government
•run projects that directly benefit individuals and communities.
With Deakin we also formed and funded a Research Program focusing on jobseekers who are highly disadvantaged in the labour market such as ex-offenders, mature-aged workers and people with disability.

The Working Network

This research underpinned the WISE Make it Work program and further seed funding enabled Deakin to establish the Working Network, an industry think tank exploring the systematic barriers to employing older workers.

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