Indigenous teen's biggest barrier to first job

Business management student Cristie Donovan. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Business management student Cristie Donovan. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

MERCURY CAMPAIGN - 100 Jobs in 100 Days

Illawarra ITeC New Careers For Aboriginal People client Cristie Donovan doesn’t see being Aboriginal as her biggest challenge to landing a job.

Instead, and despite her multiple qualifications, the 18-year-old said employers were less likely to give her a go because of her age.

‘‘Just being a teenager, people look at you in a different light, people think that you’re unreliable and that you won’t show up on time and all you worry about is partying,’’ she said. ‘‘So it is hard to convince someone you will be reliable and you will show up to work on time.’’

Ms Donovan is in the process of completing a diploma of business management, and already has a certificate three in business administration, a certificate four in frontline management and a certificate four in Aboriginal business governance.

Her ultimate dream is to become an actor, but the ambitious student said it was important she had something to do while she worked towards that goal.

‘‘It’s hard to get into the entertainment industry, but if I have qualifications and a job to fall back on – if that doesn’t work out – then I’m not just sitting around doing nothing, waiting for something to come up,’’ she said.

Ms Donovan left school in year 10. By the time her former classmates were in year 12, she already had a host of qualifications behind her.

Illawarra ITeC New Careers for Aboriginal People (NCAP) program manager Barbara Brennan said while she encouraged young people to complete year 12, school wasn’t for everyone.

‘‘For young people to drop out of school and pursue the things they want to pursue, I don’t condone it at all, but it does work for a lot of our people,’’ she said.

She said they may excel in areas that are not necessarily catered for at school. Ms Donovan described working with NCAP as ‘‘amazing’’.

‘‘If I didn’t come here ... and start doing my qualifications I’d be sitting at home doing nothing. ‘‘Like most of my friends my age ... they get to year 12 and think they’ll have a gap year and then that turns into a few gap years and they just stay at home.’’

She said that because they’ve done year 12 they assume they’ll get a job straight away. ‘‘But that’s not how the real world works, and you have to work for it,’’she said.

The Illawarra Mercury has teamed up with NCAP for the 100 Jobs in 100 Days campaign. The initiative, which runs until April, challenges employers to hire an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person trained through NCAP.


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