An Australian Government Initiative

Regional Development Australia

Jobs Connection Service

30 November 2018

Following the disastrous fire at Thomas Foods International (TFI) in January 2018, RDA Murraylands and Riverland jumped in to help 1,400 displaced workers find new jobs and stay in the region with their Job Connections Service (JCS).  As well as job matching, help was offered on writing resumes and applications, and up to $2,000 per worker was available to help them reskill for new careers.

While many TFI staff were redeployed to other company sites both in South Australia and New South Wales, some workers were seeking new opportunities. With the assistance of RDA Murraylands and Riverland, many workers were able to connect to new roles in the region. In other cases the JCS provided mentoring and support for individuals to enter into study and even start their own business.

The RDA’s free JCS also matched jobseekers with 50 local businesses who connected to the Service and had positions vacant. People accessing the service had a huge range of skills, so this was a great opportunity for regional employers looking to grow their team.

One of those employers was Costa Group’s Adelaide Mushrooms. State Manager Clint Ray said, “Our business was expanding – we’ll double in size within the year – so we’re on the lookout for talented new staff. The team at RDA were fantastic. They turned a crisis situation around and gave hope to people who thought they were out of a job and would have to move.”

Following this leg up, some workers had already taken the next step and found new careers in the mushroom business. “They’ve really hit the ground running,” says Clint.

Project Manager Vanessa Liebelt says that “at the peak of the JCS, there were in excess of 300 jobs on our database for job seekers to apply for. People took this opportunity to really consider their career path. I saw packers, processors and slaughterers retrain and seek employment in corrections, mining and aged care roles.”

The Rural City of Murray Bridge (RCMB) was in full support of the JCS, providing advertising, marketing and connecting individuals to the JCS. They played a key role in community leadership in the immediate and weeks and months following the fire.

Working closely with RDA Murraylands and Riverland, the RCMB coordinated and hosted strategic planning, communication and key messaging to community and facilitated community events to boost morale.

The JCS was proudly run by RDA Murraylands and Riverland, with funding from the Department of State Development until June 2018.

More information about the program and how it was established is available through RDA Murraylands and Riverland.