GARDEN PATH: Novaskill project workers help restore the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden.
GARDEN PATH: Novaskill project workers help restore the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden.

Paving way for future

VISITORS to Coffs Harbour's Botanic Garden will have noticed a range of improvements and a flurry of activity over the past three months.

This is thanks to a group of Work for the Dole participants, who have been completing a variety of improvement projects as a result of collaboration between Novaskill, Nortec and the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden.

Novaskill's works supervisor Marty Harrison planned the projects in conjunction with the Coffs Harbour City Council staff who manage the garden.

"I'm really proud of this group of keen young blokes who have worked really hard to upgrade several pathways," Marty said.

"This has provided better wheelchair and walker access for senior citizens and people with disabilities."

Coffs Harbour Novaskill branch coordinator Petah Russell said the focus of Novaskill's Work for the Dole projects was providing participants with opportunities to learn real skills while making a positive contribution to their own community.

Petah said Novaskill had delivered dozens of similar projects over many years across the Coffs Coast.

"Participants develop a sense of achievement and ultimately we know that they are more likely to secure gainful employment after the experience," Petah said.

"Work for the dole can get a bad rap, but we like to think of it as more of an 'earn while you learn' program; that way it is treated as a great way for participants to take the next step towards skilling up for work".

"Ultimately it delivers excellent outcomes for the community at all levels."

Skills development officer for Novaskill Coffs Harbour, Bonnie Capell, said other recent projects had included construction work at Grafton's Happy Paws animal rescue shelter and they were now planning work at Boambee's new community garden.

Work must be for non-profit organisations.

"It's not about inane jobs, but about worthwhile projects," Bonnie said.

"Participants are in a full-on work environment and they have to be on time and in full work gear.

"We have had guys leave these projects and move straight into apprenticeships."



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