Think back to when you started in your first job… do you remember the excitement mixed with awkwardness and a bit of apprehension? You wondered how quickly you would learn what to do and keep up with everyone else. There was so much to take in, and you just wanted to fit in.
Data shows that young workers, those aged 15-24 years, are vulnerable to injury in the workplace. Due to their inexperience in life and work, they are less likely to speak up about safety concerns and are unaware of their health and safety rights and obligations.
“Every young worker deserves a safe workplace, and dignity in their work, respect for their humanity and a fair wage,” says Felicity Sowerbutts, Director of Young Workers Centre, which is run by the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
“We’re grateful for EML’s support over the past seven years, which has allowed us to educate young Victorians about their rights at work and support young workers to ensure they have a good start to their working life.”
Through its Mutual Benefits Program, EML has been supporting the Young Workers Centre since 2016 through programs, training resources and research to improve the capacity of young workers to identify and report safety issues in the workplace.
Pictured: David Pickering (left) with Felicity Sowerbutts (third from left) and the Young Workers Centre team
“The team at the Centre is really passionate and committed which is inspiring to see,” says David Pickering, General Manager of EML Victoria when he recently visited the team in Carlton to get an update on their recent activities.
“They provide such valuable information and much needed support to young people starting out in the workforce to ensure they are safe and treated fairly and with respect.”
Key highlights to date include:
- 1,875 training modules delivered
- reaching 50,700 Victorian students
- across 739 educational institutions – 129 of those in regional areas
- online portal launched for apprentices & trainees to report issues at work
- developed e-learning about apprenticeship rights
- $2+M in lost wages recovered for young workers
What do young people think of the service? A recent client of the Young Workers Centre client expressed: “Family and friends had noted how bad the working conditions were. It wasn't until I was bullied at work that I realised how badly workers had been treated. I certainly rocked the boat and hopefully conditions have improved for workers still there. Young Workers Centre explained my rights in an easy-to-understand way.”
Another young worker who reached out about a sexual harassment matter said: “It is absolutely amazing to have people around like those at the Young Workers Centre, who support, help and are passionate about what they are doing. I would never have done anything without them and it makes me realise there is hope out there. They have been supporting me and fighting for my case when I was at my lowest point, I really appreciate that.”
You can read more about the Young Worker Centre’s work here.
EML also supports programs run by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to educate employers about their responsibilities to protect young workers, and to understand their unique needs.