Fairbridge a path to employment

Jaleel Olman, Brent Appleton and Cameron Thorne all had little direction in high school but now they are making their mark in the construction industry.

Fairbridge's training program has set dozens of young people on the path to a job.

In the past eight months, 21 apprentices transformed Saumarez Cottage in Fairbridge Village from a ramshackle building into an eight-bed accommodation unit for people under housing stress.

"I didn't want to continue with school and Fairbridge offered me an apprenticeship," Mr Olman, 19, said. "I've learnt a lot. One day I want to start my own business."

For 17-year-old Brent Appleton, renovating the cottage taught him more than just building skills. "It's not just about learning how to do carpentry, it's also teaching us life skills and about the history of Fairbridge," he said.

Fairbridge WA chief executive Mark Anderson said the cottage would house disadvantaged youth as well as former prisoners in the Binjareb Aboriginal employment scheme.

"Our housing strategy is not just about providing a bed for people - it's about bringing sustainable change to their life," he said.

"There are growing numbers of young homeless people and Fairbridge can help provide them accommodation."

The Fairbridge Binjareb project, partly funded by the State Government, provides employment opportunities in the mining sector to Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Since 2010, 10 trainees have been accepted into the program and are guaranteed employment once qualified.

The State Government provided the $500,000 for the cottage's refurbishment and yesterday announced a further $500,000 to refurbish neighbouring Evelyn Cottage.

"The renovation of Saumarez Cottage aligns closely with the State Government's Affordable Housing Strategy, which aims to stimulate the supply of affordable housing," Housing Minister Bill Marmion said.

Saumarez Cottage was built in 1935 and originally housed women who were preparing to enter the workforce.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West