Good News Story: BATForce and their community of co-design tackling the employment barriers across our region


It’s a word we all heard way too much of when the pandemic hit last year. But it’s what organisations had to do to continue their services.

Our community partners saw this first-hand. Their work on the frontline of the pandemic across the food relief, housing, mental health, education, and employment sectors all needed a pivot to continue providing their essential services during a time where many were experiencing an increase in need.

This is where BATForce and the innovative Community Online Engagement (COE) chats come in.

BATForce works within the G21 region with the simple vision of improving opportunities for young people through advocacy, education, and strengthening familial and workforce networks.

When the pandemic saw social distancing and lockdowns come into effect, BATForce was quick to react to the changing businesses atmosphere.

In March 2020 they commenced their COE chats, with the tagline ‘no logos, no egos, no minutes, just actions’ and the hope of supporting frontline workers across the youth and employment sectors in developing their pivot.

What started as a peer support program for workers and organisations tackling employment barriers to share their concerns, strategies, and wins quickly became a network for co-designing quick, practical, and affordable solutions through mini-communities of practice.

“Our aim was to connect and support the frontline workers across the youth and employment sectors, who take on a huge load and responsibility for supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our community – job seekers with barriers to employment, and their families. Collect their concerns, share their strategies for wins and find out what they needed to support them to support the community,” said Leigh Bartlett, CEO of BATForce.

The first challenge the group tackled together was a response to the remote work that organisations were having to undertake, including teaching how to use online tools and sourcing digital devices for families without.

“The next major problem identified by the COE Chatters was how to access all the available supports and information, especially for young people, people with disability or CALD backgrounds, in their search for jobs. This led to the development of Trello boards, now located here These Trellos have now been through two review phases with Young People, parents, and workers all providing valuable feedback on how they needed to be improved. Gaps they identified, became new Trello boards and some have now developed into ‘sector support boards’.”

The next challenge the COE Chats are looking to tackle?

How best to support job seekers regarding vaccination mandates and ensure that this doesn’t become another barrier to employment.

“Working together, with our collaborative and problem-solving mindset, the COE Chats continue to offer huge benefit for our communities.”