After almost losing a vital volunteer following a misunderstanding around requirements for the Work for the Dole program, Morwell Neighbourhood House manager Tracie Lund is encouraging Work for the Dole participants to make sure they are aware of their rights when choosing a job provider.
Much-loved volunteer and Work for the Dole participant Frank Wilkinson has been with the neighbourhood house for eight years, six of which he has been volunteering under the Work for the Dole program.
After performing his Work for the Dole duties at the house for six years, Mr Wilkinson was told by his former service provider that he would now have to perform his Work for the Dole hours at a set organisation and would be unable to continue at the neighbourhood house.
"I was told there is only one site option and that Frank would have to do one of three things. So, either be working full-time, be studying full time or he would have to go to the site option of that particular agency," Ms Lund said.
"[Mr Wilkinson] is an integral part of the leadership team, so when I step out of the chair to do something else, there is always Frank here who is across every facet of our business and our operations, and queries and questions can be referred to him and decisions can be made in my absence, so he is a vital part of our team.
"From there I started exploring options ... and then we were made aware that Frank could transfer to another provider," she said.
Ms Lund said it was important Work for the Dole participants knew they did not have to stay with a particular service provider if it wasn't meeting their needs.
"It is important for clients to understand they can shop around, they don't have to land just with one and if it is not working for them they can explore other options and ask for transfers," she said.
"If you are with a provider that is limiting your options and you are really not comfortable with those you really should go and have some conversations with the other providers in town and see if they can meet your needs a bit more appropriately.
"I think it is really important that the community is made aware, and we have a large component of the community that is connected into Centrelink and Newstart, so my messaging is you do have options and you can choose and you can transfer from one to another."
Mr Wilkinson said it was important that Work for the Dole participants found meaning in their work.
"Most people wouldn't know you can transfer," he said.
"If you're doing Work for the Dole you want that work to actually mean something. You want to actually achieve something or help somebody ... it needs to be meaningful.
"But you've got people who are in a vulnerable state, they've lost work or they're trying to find work and it can be months and months before you find work, if not years ... so it should be teaching people skills and showing people how to relate to other people."