Today, these industries are shedding jobs and the region has one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia. This has made life more difficult and has affected some groups more than others. Wollongong has a big refugee population, and only 31% of refugees have a job 5 years after resettlement. In Port Kembla and Warrawong, where we’re based, youth unemployment sits at 22 to 36%.
Green Connect was set up to tackle three things:
Green Connect is a social enterprise which focuses on creating more jobs for former refugees and young people, less waste, and fair food – by which we mean food that’s good for those who eat it, those who grow it, and the planet. We do all this with and within our community, to make this beautiful place, and life, better.
Green Connect is a social enterprise within Community Resources Ltd, a national not-for-profit organisation focused on creating jobs that make a difference to people and the planet.
Community Resources started in Tuncurry, NSW, more than 30 years ago. It now comprises of more than seven social enterprises including: Resource Recovery Australia, which operates re-use stores, community recycling centres and transfer stations, a problem waste mobile community recycling service and waste education programs in partnership with councils across NSW, WA and the ACT. Soft Landing, a national mattress recycling social enterprise that works with local government, bedding retailers, manufacturers and a range of commercial, government and community partners to divert waste mattresses from landfill and recover the components for re-use and recycling. Waste Aid Australia, which works alongside Aboriginal communities to leverage their own skills and expertise to co-design and deliver waste solutions on their own land. Helping Hands, a local community-based care and building provider that provides services to the aged and those living with a disability to ensure they can remain in their own homes safely, for as long as possible. Homebase Youth Services, a dedicated local youth and Aboriginal service, providing services in the Great Lakes area for over 27 years. Great Lakes and Manning Youth Homelessness Service, which provides specialist homelessness services to young people across the MidCoast Council region
It is only possible to operate a small to medium enterprise with lofty social and environmental aims when you have a team of wonderful, hardworking, clever, warmhearted people in and around Green Connect. We benefit from the tireless efforts of many and are a proud community of people coming together to create more jobs, less waste and fair food. Our management team is made up of: Kylie Flament, General Manager Bron Williams, HR & Labour Hire Manager Cal Champagne, Farm Manager Jacqui Besgrove, Zero Waste Manager
Green Connect was launched by SCARF in 2011, and received funding to develop a social enterprise providing employment opportunities for former refugees in waste recovery at events. It was started by Robyn Murphy and Sarah Chisholm. In 2013, Jess Moore was engaged by SCARF to wind it up. However, seeing that Green Connect could work as an enterprise, Jess moved it to Our Community Project, and led turning it into the social enterprise it is today, funding the majority of work (and employment and waste recovery outcomes) with income from trade.
Work in waste recovery grew, and labour hire services were launched to help connect refugee to staff to other businesses, industries and opportunities. In 2014 Green Connect also incorporated Urban Grown, a great urban farm working with young people, that was about to close down as its funding came to an end. This gave Green Connect the capacity to launch its third business arm: fair food. Green Connect started selling weekly vegetable boxes to households, selling boxes of vegetables to restaurants, and creating employment opportunities for a second target group: young people.
Green Connects goals were set: to create meaningful jobs for groups experiencing high unemployment. Specifically, it recovers waste, grows fair food and employs former refugees and young people. It does this with its local community.
By 2017, Green Connect had grown bigger than its host organisation and needed to find a new home that shared its aims and would enable it to grow further. In February 2018, the team moved into a new office on the main street of Port Kembla, Green Connect merged with Community Resources Ltd, and Kylie Flament came on board as the new General Manager.
Kept 2,653 tonnes of waste out of landfill
Grew and distributed 20,628kg of chemical free food
Employed 106 former refugees and young people