How Des is helping to challenge the unemployment crisis
DES Ahoy understands the struggle of the unemployed all too well.
As a young indigenous man he admits he had led a troubled youth and, like others in his situation, was left with almost no prospect of finding a job.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, around six in 10 indigenous people are unemployed.
"They talk about the revolving door - a lot of the time with my people there's problems with drugs, alcohol, jail and everything else," Des said.
"But a lot of my people need to be given that opportunity to work. You need to make change and turn the negatives into positives."
Des managed to break out of the cycle of unemployment and started working in traffic control and, around ten years later, his life had turned a complete 360.
He started family-owned business, Ahoy Traffic Control, with a vision to help others escape that 'revolving door'.
To find employees, Des teamed up with indigenous employment organisation Real Futures.
Together they have provided jobs for people facing barriers like police records, no licence, lack of qualifications and no previous work experience.
"Des does what he can to give people an opportunity where other employers wouldn't," Melissa Fernando, Real Futures Regional Manager NSW Coast, said.
"Des has a great passion for giving back to communities - he knows what it feels like to be at the beginning of your career while having barriers and receiving no help."
Des' vision goes beyond just addressing employment - he hopes one day all indigenous people will own their own homes.
"The Elders put a lot of hard work in to give us rights, now it's our turn to carry on the good work and build on those foundations," Des said.
"We've got to take it to the next level. It's about empowering ourselves to buy homes, have careers, and start businesses."
Since launching in early 2018, Ahoy Traffic Control has employed more than 50 Aboriginal people.
Donning their indigenous Pride work shirts in the colours of the Aboriginal flag, they've been working on major projects like the Pacific Highway upgrade, Coffs Central refurbishment, Macksville Hospital upgrade and the Coffs Harbour Health Campus upgrade.