Community Resources was initially established as a Skillshare, i.e. a community based, federally funded program to assist unemployed, particularly disadvantaged unemployed, to obtain and retain employment. Target groups included Aboriginal people, the unemployed, long term unemployed, homeless, disabled and offenders.  It aimed to assist target group clients to develop social and economic livelihoods for themselves.

Its strategy in a 'thin' labour market has been to have a hands-on involvement in business enterprise locally. This has been important not only to develop opportunities for its target groups, which may not have otherwise been developed, but also to establish credibility with local business, the community and government. Other strategies included vocational training, job search assistance, work experience placement, and enterprise development. This involved extensive labor market research, client needs analysis and developing excellent relationships with employers, training providers, and referral agencies.

Funds and other support had to be sourced from community, industry and government as program funding was limited. Strategic partnerships were formed with hospitality industry employers, oyster and fishing industry, local Council, tourism service operators and building industry.  Other programs were sourced to enhance opportunities, for example, Landcare and Environment Action Program (funds were provided by the Federal Government to undertake Landcare and Environment repair and enhancement works).



Medika, a nursery (plant propagation) and regeneration business was established jointly with the Local Aboriginal Land Council, providing services to the mining industry (rehabilitation after sand mining), land developers, local Council and community projects.


In 1991 Home Maintenance and Modification Service was established. Aiming to create Aboriginal Apprenticeships in the growing building industry, this business drew on support from the local building industry for the establishment phase.

State government funded the Mature Workers Program, providing career counseling, job search assistance and training to the over 40’s and Resource Recovery (waste management and recycling) was established with Great Lakes Council. Targeting male long-term disadvantaged unemployed, this enterprise, including landfill management and reuse operation was further enhanced in 1994 when the Greater Taree City Council tender was won. The business provided employment and skills development for 30 target group unemployed.


Homebase Youth Service was created. Sourcing State Government funding and with support from Local Council and service clubs, a comprehensive youth service has been developed and is operated by the Association. The service operated a range of programs and services including Youth Development, Youth Accommodation, Advocacy, Health, Arts and Recreation. For example, the service ran an early childhood support program for young mothers, focusing on the Indigenous.


 Helping Hands (home and personal care services), New Work Opportunities, skillshare and Jobskills (federally funded job creation programs involving six months work by disadvantaged unemployed on community projects) were all established. Targeting women returning to the workforce, this business has taken advantage of the aging demographic in our area and the health policy move to in-home care. Growth of this business has relied on networking and relationship building, drawing on a mix of private, community and government sector business. It receives support from the local clubs who provide funds for subsidised service provision to clients on low incomes.


LEAP (Laancare and Environment Action Program, a federally funded program targeting the young unemployed undertaking training and work on local environmental and cultural projects) and Tobwabba Art (Aboriginal art and design studio and Aboriginal Arts marketing network) was established. Tobwabba aimed to develop local and regional Aboriginal cultural activity and provide (skills) training opportunities to the Aboriginal target group. By 1996, this enterprise operated the largest Aboriginal design-licensing program in Australia (sales over $6 m, including in the US, Europe and Japan), designs were licensed for use on 19 product categories. International exhibitions, exports, and trade fairs were attended. Locally, cultural tours with an environmental emphasis have been developed.  The skills development, cultural pride and economic impacts on the local and regional communities are considerable. Tobwabba Art won Telstra Employer of the year (Aboriginal) and won NSW Tourism award (Aboriginal section) eight years running. Tobwabba represents 22 successful Aboriginal artists regionally.


The Skillshare and Jobskills programs nationally were axed and the LEAP and New Work Opportunities programs came to an end. The legal entity locally, Great Lakes Community Resources Incorporated, having developed a diverse range of programs, services and enterprises, continued its community development mission.


In 1997, Workplace Services (labour hire and recruitment) was established. This service focused on the manufacturing and construction sector, providing human resources and industrial relations services. We created work entry opportunities for the target group and provided 3000 hours of labour-hire per fortnight in Forster, Taree and Port Macquarie.


Regional Solutions was established (federally funded, running the Coastcall program, providing training and e-commerce development assistance to regional business) and contracts in waste management and recycling were renewed and enhanced with local government in Taree and Forster, further enabling employment and skills development opportunities for the Association’s target groups.

The Helping Hands (domestic support and personal care) enterprise gained further contracts from health care insurers and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  In the growing home care industry, the Home Modification Service gained contracts with property managers in the rapidly growing tourism rental market.


The Regional Solutions program concluded and Community Resources amalgamated with the Business Enterprise Centre in Forster, Gloucester, and Taree and developed a business incubator in Taree.  This further enhanced the Association’s relationship with local business. Networking and business development activities with the local chamber of commerce in the two towns were made even more effective. The Business Enterprise Centre operated the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, in addition to a range of Business Advisory Services.

In 2001, the Australian Training Network (Nationally franchised not-for-profit training service) was commenced locally, by the Association drawing on the resources of the national peak body, Jobs Australia. Now called Worksmart Training the service meets specialized local business training needs, focusing on aged care, customer service and frontline training in the tourism sector. Worksmart also offers traineeships under the Department of Education and Training.


In 2003, Green Corps was established. The National Green Corps program for JA/GA is being delivered by The Association regionally (Great Lakes, Gloucester, Port Macquarie & Taree), the National Green Corps program for Jobs Australia/Greening Australia. Federally funded, this program targets young unemployed, particularly the disadvantaged target group.  Projects in environmental repair depend on relationships with landholders, local Councils, Catchment Management Authority and National Parks and Wildlife Services. Developing these relationships, support, and good on-ground project design was essential.


In 2004, Mature Workers Program was defunded across NSW.

The Association has researched and developed these programs in response to emerging community needs and government policy settings. Programs also run have included;

New Work Opportunities and Jobskills were Federally funded job creation programs operated by the Association between 1993-1996, Involving 6 months work by disadvantaged unemployed on community projects.


LEAP. Preceding Green Corps, this federal government program targeted young unemployed people and undertook training and work on local environmental and cultural projects.


Mature Workers Program.This state government program provided career counselling and job search assistance and training to the over 40’s.


Coastcall. Provided training and e-commerce development assistance to regional business.

Regional Solutions

This federally funded program has operated from 1999 included the Coastcall programs and the employment of a development officer for the Forster/Tuncurry Chamber of Commerce.

Community Resources strategy in a ‘thin’ labour market has been to have a hands-on involvement in business enterprise locally. This has been important not only to develop opportunities for its target groups, which may not have otherwise been developed, but also to establish credibility with local business, the community and government.

The Association has been built on its support from business, community and government.

The Association’s peak body memberships include: