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NF McDonnell and Sons exceptional Employer of the Year

NESA names NF McDonnell and Sons Employer of the Year

Green Triangle mill operator NF McDonnell and Sons has been named Employer of the Year at the National Employment Services Associations (NESA) Awards for its role supporting some of Mount Gambier’s most vulnerable community members. Source: Timberbiz

About one third of the timber mill’s 125 staff have a disability, suffered from mental health issues, experienced homelessness, had transport issues or a criminal history.

Others have experienced long term unemployment and are refugees. The long-standing business has created an inclusive work environment where individuals from a variety of backgrounds can find meaningful and successful employment.

The mill has made extensive efforts to make the worksite an inclusive place of work by undertaking mill tours allowing trialling of jobs, working closely with job coaches, providing flexible working hours, supporting work transport, delivering immense upskilling opportunities, breaking down language barriers and holding monthly meetings to discuss and address any barriers arising that may impact employment success for its recruits.

NF McDonnell and Sons’ human resources manager John Martin-Brown said the business had always had a strong commitment to supporting the local community.

“The opportunity to be involved in this social enterprise has meant we can support our community while having useful and valuable work completed across our worksite whilst being able to access and assess potential employees,” Mr Martin-Brown said.

“It truly has been a win-win situation. People who were struggling to find work have been given an opportunity to work and demonstrate their abilities and we have recruited some excellent employees through the program.”

SYC, a non-profit human services organisation, has worked in partnership with NF McDonnell & Sons over the past eight years delivering recruitment services.

In 2019, the organisations partnered to create the social enterprise program, providing people experiencing unemployment with access to meaningful work and skill development opportunities.

The NESA awards aim to highlight the commitment the employment services sector has made to improve economic and social wellbeing through employment inclusion. The Employer of the Year award, sponsored by Jobsbank, credited NF McDonnell and Sons for helping its outstanding efforts to support its recruits settle into employment, noting how thoughtful design of employment opportunities can lead to life-changing benefits for jobseekers.

NF McDonnell Mill Supervisor John Barry said the program gave participants an opportunity to experience working in an active timber mill environment.

“It’s hands on and involved and they get to gain the knowledge, skills and qualifications that they will need to secure ongoing employment outside of the program, which they wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to experience outside of our timber mill facility with SYC,” Mr Barry said.

“It also benefits their potential employers by allowing them to gauge an employee’s work ethic, productivity and suitability through work experience before they enter into full time work.

“I have seen a lot of successful candidates go through the program and look forward to seeing many more,” he said.

Josh Praolini, the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub’s new workforce development manager, praised NF McDonnell and Sons for its exceptional work noting the industry would continue to support the development of credible employment programs in the wider region to attract and retain skilled employees.

“The diverse range of roles on offer in forestry means that there is a career opportunity for almost everyone,” Mr Praolini said.