Decent Work

Habitat for Humanity

Overview of Year One

“Human beings are, in the main, active purposeful creatures and they want to know what “to do” not what “not to do”.  Give them a positive lead and they will follow it.”

– Sir Vincent Fairfax, Address for the Country Women’s Association at the Opening of Summer Leadership School, Warwick QLD, 10 January 1954.

Mark Gambino, Arts Centre Melbourne

The Decent Work focus area builds upon and advances VFFF’s historical focus on supporting employment outcomes for people experiencing disadvantage. Research commissioned as part of VFFF’s strategic review process highlighted the opportunity to fund the “demand side” of youth employment – building partnerships with employers and others to grow entry level jobs for young people and work-based training opportunities.

The Decent Work goal has become even more relevant over the past year, as skills shortages are emerging in key industries and locations. This program funds employer driven, innovative models for work that integrate learning to ensure young people gain the work and experience they need and value with a clear focus on three funding outcomes:

  • Increased employer engagement in work-based learning relevant to the needs of local industry
  • Increased entry level jobs for young people
  • Smoother transitions for young people from entry level jobs to decent, secure work.

Research conducted by VFFF in the first year of the strategy has helped to frame our approach to supporting young people into career-launching roles.  Youth unemployment (ABS January 2022) is still high at 9% and skills shortages are becoming more obvious, with significant jobs growth and entry level opportunities in health care and social assistance, construction, and IT/technical work. Region-focused industries such as mining, manufacturing  agriculture, forestry and fishing have ageing workforces.

Where skills shortages are acute, employers need to take new approaches to job design, work conditions and progression pathways, informed by youth perspectives. Innovation thinking and new partnerships are needed with employers and industry.

VFFF has also learnt that a focus on supporting Work Integrated Social Enterprises (WISE) is an important consideration for our Decent Work focus area.  The WISE pipeline requires investment, working alongside other funders, intermediaries, industry groups and employers to strengthen these enterprises and the transition of young people into mainstream jobs.

Grants Snapshot






of total funding


for core operations and capacity building


to regional areas

2022 Grants

VFFF Board

Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Stage Queensland and Arts Centre Melbourne, $750,000 over three years
Tech Connect Queensland
Towards the Tech Connect program to deliver skills training and VET qualifications to young trainees in performing arts venues across Queensland.

Decent Work Exploration Grants, $150,000 
Towards research and development work to generate and test the feasibility of  innovative projects:

Habitat for Humanity Australia, $501,000 over two years
Habitat Women: Creating quality employment outcomes for young women entering the construction industry
Supporting end-to-end employment pathways for young women to enter the construction industry and obtain meaningful employment.

VFFF Grants Committee

Down the Track, $50,000
Securing a home for Down the Track
Support for the purchase of a permanent location for Down the Track’s programs in Lake Cargelligo.

Australian Training Company

Highlight: Decent Work Exploration Grants

Organisations often need time, encouragement and resources to consider and adopt new approaches. They need to be able to consult and co-design with young people and employers, collect the evidence on potential outcomes and develop and cost new service models or practices.

To support this work, VFFF provided Decent Work Exploration Grants, to promote evidence-based innovative design to achieve decent work for young people. These  grants  support  research and development work to generate and test the feasibility of  innovative projects. The grants build a bridge between an emerging idea and strong multi-year grant proposal, which might be made to VFFF, or to other funders – or both.

The Decent Work Exploration Grants reflect VFFF’s commitment to exploring and trialling new ways of granting to offer the best support for those active in the employment space.

Enterprise and Training Company

Thank you May!

We would like to acknowledge the work of Dr May Lam who led the development of the Decent Work focus area from October 2021-June 2022. During her time at VFFF, May conducted research into the social enterprise sector in NSW and Queensland and workforce skills in demand to inform where and how VFFF could best fund innovative and employer-driven activities to realise the Decent Work goal. May also introduced the Decent Work Exploration Grants and led the submission process for Tech Connect Queensland and Habitat Women.

We thank May for her many contributions to the Decent Work focus area and VFFF’s broader thinking on Backing Young People.

Dr May Lam



Acknowledgement of Country

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, and extends this acknowledgement to all Traditional Custodians of nations where we fund organisations and activities. We pay respect to Elders past and present, and to the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.