Aboriginal Community Owned & Managed

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Celebrating the CHIA NSW 2021 Cadetship Program Graduates

Posted on 12 Oct 2022


Iesha Simon, a proud Walbunja woman, is one of the recent graduates of the Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW) Cadetship Program. The program, developed in partnership with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), offers Cadets a 12-month paid employment contract with a Community Housing Provider (CHP) as well as enrolment in a nationally accredited training course, Certificate IV in Housing.

Following her graduation on Friday, the 23rd of September, Iesha sat down with the CHIA NSW team to speak about her experience in the program, “The Cadetship Program gave me the opportunity to get back into the workforce and full-time work… I got my license and studied for the first time in 9 years when I thought I was not competent.

When being out of the workforce for 7 years, I doubted myself and what I was capable of. I had never worked in an office job and did not think I was going to make it through the 12 months. Working whilst studying was hard but also the most rewarding.” Iesha continued.

Even from Iesha’s initial interview, it was clear to SEARMS and her Cadetship mentor, Melissa Jones (SEARMS’ Service Delivery Manager), that Iesha was the right candidate for the opportunity, “We knew that she had such a big positive drive and really wanted to benefit her community, and was doing it for all the right reasons.” said Melissa.

Iesha is now a Housing Officer with SEARMS, and after joining the SEARMS team as a permanent, full-time staff member, Iesha reflected on her experience in the Cadetship, “This is the best thing I have done, and I would not be doing anything like this in the last year and a half if it were not for the Cadetship.

Uncle Tom Slockee, SEARMS’ Chairperson, had this message for Iesha, “The Walbunja Elders and Batemans Bay Aboriginal community applaud, praise and salute you on your success. We acknowledge your achievements and commend you for your commitment and dedication in graduating your course.

“The reality of working in Aboriginal Housing is that you are caring for vulnerable people and families. You have experienced some of the emotional trauma, and yet, as a young Aboriginal person, you have shown empathy and understanding in dealing with these situations.

“We love you and pray for you that you will continue to be an inspiration and role model for others to follow.”

The Cadetship Program is a success not only for the Cadets, with 80% of the first cohort graduating, but also for the community housing sector. 75% of those Cadets found jobs with CHPs.

CHIA NSW CEO, Mark Degotardi, congratulated the graduates and the NSW Government on the program’s success, saying, “The NSW community housing workforce is now a little bit stronger because of the amazing people it has gained through the Cadetship Program.

Applications for the 2023 Cadetship round are now open.