Former Green Army participant David Long, current Green Army team supervisor Peter Thompson, Land Works coordinator Thomas Staff, and Skillset senior manager environment Ashley Bland.
Former Green Army participant David Long, current Green Army team supervisor Peter Thompson, Land Works coordinator Thomas Staff, and Skillset senior manager environment Ashley Bland. Contributed

'Silly choices': Gladstone's troubled, unemployed need jobs

THE end of the Federal Government's Green Army project has prompted a call for a new program to provide work skills and a constructive pastime for young people.

The Green Army has been open as paid work for people aged 17-24 who wish to apply.

Now with the program set to wrap up, a program to fill the gap is being planned.

Land Works, developed by Skillset, aims to provide skilled labour hire using young people who will earn practical work skills, as well as a pay cheque.

Skillset senior manager environment Ashley Bland said he hoped Land Works would fill the need left after the Green Army concludes.

"The Green Army is winding down but we're trying to make the most of it, and ensure there's a constructive and graceful exit," Mr Bland said.

"(The development of) Land Works is still rolling along and we're getting together some ads and quotes for work."

Mr Bland said he would be open to young people doing the Land Works program as part of court-ordered community service.

"I'm don't personally know anyone doing community service with the Green Army, but we had people with criminal records," he said.

"These aren't bad people, a lot of the time they've just made some silly choices.

"The vast majority of people with criminal records in the Green Army exceeded our work expectations.

"We focus on the activity, not the person.

"We don't say 'you're broken and need to be fixed', we say 'here's a job that needs to be done and we need you to do it'."

Mr Bland said he believed the Green Army saved lives and kept people out of jail.

"We hope the Land Works model will fill that need," he said.

Mr Bland said the program was planned to operate commercially, rather than being government funded.

"We want to take the best aspects of the Green Army, fund it commercially to avoid all the flip-flopping of politics, and run it on sustainable ground," he said.

"Land Works would give people real, practical work experience.

"The community wants to see young people be successful.

"If young people have that track record of work, the community can have the confidence to give them a run."

Mr Bland said he hoped to hear from people interested in using the Land Works model locally.

For more details, phone Ashley Bland on 0488 033 301.



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