Westfield’s new Local Hero creating SPARKs for local people


After helping to create some 175 jobs and over 200 work experience opportunities for local people, Ginninderry’s Emma Sckrabei has today been chosen from 23 entrants, as one of the three winners in the Westfield Local Heroes program – an initiative which recognises the work of those who promote social well-being and harmony in our community.

Emma is the manager of the SPARK Training and Employment initiative, which is part of Ginninderry; a master planned community being developed as a joint venture between the ACT Government and Riverview Developments.

In this role Emma is responsible for organising education, training and job opportunities for local residents in industries such as construction, retail, aged care and early childhood education.

But it was Emma’s idea to source extra funds to improve the chance of local residents gaining employment after they finish training or studying.

“What training doesn’t include is all the different tickets and licences that people actually need, to be able to step into a job,” she explains.

“The more people that are educated and employed in a community, the better a community is going to be,” she explains.

A diverse range of people benefit from Emma’s work, including young people, cultural and linguistically diverse communities, women returning to the paid workforce, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with disabilities.

Territory government funding subsidises the cost of training, which is also offered in hospitality, aged care, horticulture, conservation and land management and business administration.

But many people would not be able to complete their qualifications without Emma’s determination and commitment to keep them in training. She removes roadblocks such as having no money for transport, needing help with reading and writing or just having someone believe in them.

 “We access funds to buy bus tickets, petrol vouchers, uniforms food vouchers and lots of other little things they become barriers for our people,” says Emma, who checks up on participants regularly.

“We have a really high completion rate on our programs because we really do care about people.”

Emma says it’s humbling to be recognised as one of the Westfield Local Hero winners.

The $10,000 grant for Ginninderry’s SPARK program will be used to help more people secure the tickets and licences needed to secure a job. It will also address a major barrier for women wanting to return to paid work—not being able to afford childcare.

“With this money we are certainly going to be looking to help out where we can with emergency childcare places,” Emma says.

For more details about Ginninderry ‘s SPARK programs click here.

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