Decent Work

Australian Training Company

Overview of Year Two

Tech Connect Queensland
Australian Training Company

This year, the youth unemployment rate hit 7.5%, more than double the rate for the general population, and in some places it was as high as 17%. The experience for too many young people is of casual, insecure and low-paid work. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and without support face additional barriers, which are commonly amplified for those in rural and regional communities. Earning while you learn is a sentiment that VFFF strives to foster in the Decent Work grantmaking focus area as this is the experience that young people value and are seeking out.

Within the Decent Work portfolio, VFFF 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.

The grants distributed under Decent Work this year focused on delivering these outcomes, particularly for rural and regional young people. Each of the new partners has a unique approach with the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) focused on system change, the Australian Training Company (ATC) taking an industry approach (agriculture) and Miyay Birray Youth Service (MBYS) focusing on a single cohort of young people (First Nations) in a single community (Moree). What underpins each of these partnerships is the important priority they place on ensuring their work is youth informed – young people’s voices are front and centre. 

In the first two years of the Backing Young People strategy, the collective Decent Work portfolio enables VFFF to play a (small) role across the wide spectrum of work that makes up the complex employment ecosystem. At one end VFFF supports BSL as a strategic partner to use evidence to formulate, support and deliver employment policy relevant to young people and informed by on the ground work. At the other end of the spectrum, VFFF supports ATC and MBYS, organisations operating at the coalface of working with young people seeking decent work in rural and regional areas. VFFF’s historical work has shown that supporting policy changes in parallel to on the ground work leads to the best chance of delivering outcomes for the beneficiary groups most in need of support.

This year also saw VFFF leap at the opportunity to participate in the Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) Grant Program, collaborating with six philanthropic peers to provide over $4.7m to WISEs to build their capacity to create meaningful jobs and employment pathways for disadvantaged jobseekers. Working alongside Westpac Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (LMCF), Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), Macquarie Group Foundation, English Family Foundation and Minderoo Foundation, the group collectively recognised that WISEs often find it difficult to navigate various philanthropic grant programs, and despite their effectiveness at creating sustainable and meaningful work, they face unique challenges to grow due to the significant costs of working with marginalised job seekers. The two-year WISE Grant Program seeks to address some of these challenges while ultimately creating more job opportunities and reducing barriers to work. This collaboration is a great opportunity for VFFF to identify new youth focused WISEs, strengthen philanthropic networks and leverage the shared knowledge base to better meet the funding needs of the Australian for-purpose sector.

Grants Snapshot






of total funding


for program funding


to regional areas



Australian Training Company, $597,000 over two years
School Based Apprenticeships in the Agriculture Industry
Supporting the delivery of a program to provide School Based Apprenticeships in the Agriculture Industry in South East NSW and establishing a viable model to replicate in other key agricultural regions.

Brotherhood of St Laurence, $2,622,000 over four years
National Youth Employment Body
To support the delivery of the BSL’s National Youth Employment Body program and the BSL youth employment policy reform agenda

Miyay Birray Youth Service, $580,000 over two years
The establishment of Warrama-Li
Towards the development of an employment focused social enterprise in Moree, focused on First Nations young people in the building and construction industry.

Work Integration Social Enterprise Grant Program, $525,000 over two years
Philanthropic Peer Fund
Towards a collaborative fund, alongside six philanthropic peers to support social enterprises that exist to create jobs and employment pathways for Australians facing barriers to employment.


Miyay Birray Youth Service
Brotherhood of St Laurence

Highlight: Tech Connect Queensland

"The traineeship has helped me get a foot in the door at Queensland Performing Arts Centre and into the Arts industry in general. I’ve been able to experience a huge range of shows and work with a really diverse group of people. Without the opportunity that Tech Connect has provided I don’t know that I could have found a way to work in the Arts. Even if I did, it probably would not have been at the level I can now and I would not have had a qualification as a result.”

Regional performing arts venues in Queensland have regularly reported their difficulties recruiting, training and retaining skilled production team members, critical to delivering the work of lighting, sound and set transitions for performances. In November 2021, the industry peak body, Stage Queensland surveyed performing arts venues and found a strong appetite to create youth traineeships focused on practical on-the-job training.

Funding the Tech Connect Queensland program was the outcome of a COVID-19 collaboration with the Sidney Myer Fund, Gandel Philanthropy, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Ian Potter Foundation. This grant program supports organisations partnering to address the negative impacts of COVID on the employment circumstances of disadvantaged women and young people. Tech Connect Queensland was one of three successful applicants and VFFF approved $750,000 over three years towards their proposed initiative. 

Tech Connect Queensland

Tech Connect Queensland is providing qualifications through traineeships for young people as an employment pathway into performing arts venues across Queensland, including a Certificate III in Live Production and Technical Services. In year one, 12 young people are participating, representing nine art centres, including five from rural and regional communities. As the only performing arts venue in Australia to deliver nationally accredited qualifications, Art Centre Melbourne’s (ACM) Registered Training Organisation originally successfully delivered Tech Connect in Victoria. This program brings the ACM expertise and traineeship model to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), working with the State industry peak body, Stage Queensland, to train both the performing arts technicians and the young trainees. The technicians will achieve technical and/or teaching qualifications enabling them to teach new trainees on an ongoing basis. Tech Connect Queensland has already been recognised by Performing Arts Centre Impact Awards for Innovation and is fielding requests from other state peak bodies to replicate the program.



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.