COUNCILLOR Alex Christian wants to see the Green Corps program revived and is calling on Bathurst Regional Council to help make it happen.
Green Corps was a six-month program established by the Australian Government to get young people to contribute to conservation projects, while helping them to develop skills and receive accredited training.
Cr Christian himself was part of the program in 2006 when Orange City Council was a partner.
"I just found it a really positive program. It got young people - it was, I think, 17 to 25 [years of age] - who had either just left school or weren't working at the moment to basically go out, learn some skills and basically get a work ethic and some hands-on experience in the workforce," he said.
Participants in the program undertook work that helped them to meet the criteria to receive a certificate in conservation and land management.
The work included learning to use a wide range of tools, constructing boardwalks and creating bush tracks.
They were also taught about plants and animals, habitats, and Aboriginal landmarks.
For Cr Christian, Green Corps led into a full-time job with the Orange council through an apprenticeship and gave him the foundations to run his own business for a year while he was waiting to join the NSW Police Force, his full-time job now.
"It was the sliding doors moment I think in my life. I look back to signing to that program and everything snowballed from there to where I am today really," he said.
Knowing the impact Green Corps had on him, Cr Christian is confident it is something that could help young people today.
He feels the skills a program like that teaches people are in demand today and could set young people up for a long-lasting career.
"I know with garden care and landscaping, people these days don't have the time to look after their own gardens, so there is a big demand for people who know what they're doing in the horticultural field," he said.
He has already asked Bathurst council to approach the state and federal governments to see if there is a similar program in place today and, if there's not, to lobby for one to be developed.
"I think it would be great for the state or federal governments to basically drag this program back from the dead and give people work, particularly through COVID-19," Cr Christian said.
"It would be a great opportunity to create short-term employment, yes, but hopefully something that could put people on the path to full-time employment."
Alternatively, he would support the council establishing a similar program of its own in the region.
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