By Helena Adeloju
When Pakenham Race Club People and Culture Manger Tanya Ritson answered a call from DVJS Employment solutions mid-last year it was the beginning of a perfect match.
“I got that phone call and I thought that timing is really good,” Tanya said.
DVJS Employment Solutions specialises in creating opportunities and employment pathways for disadvantaged job seekers.
It works with a wide range of job seekers including people who have intellectual disabilities, anxiety, depression, cancer survivors and those who have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Since July last year, DVJS has been placing workers as ‘stompers’ at the Pakenham Racecourse. Stompers help keep the track smooth by pushing down the torn up turf between races.
Ms Ritson said the job they do is invaluable and ensures that safety hazards for the horses are minimised.
“It’s an important role. We can’t run the races without them,” she said.
“Race horses are worth a lot of money and there are big stakes in it, so we’ve got to keep the track nice and pristine for them while they are out there on it.”
DVJS Business Development Manager Andy Ernst said that the success of the partnership had been about “getting the right fit”.
“They’re a good bunch of honest guys and girls. They just have their own little barriers,” Mr Ernst said.
Before DVJS placed Mark Sheridan to work at the track, all he knew about horse racing was betting.
Now Mark is enjoying his work so much that he wishes he could work at the racecourse more and would be interested in working at the track full time one day.
“I get quite a buzz out of this job,” Mr Sheridan said.
“I like being outdoors because it’s quiet. The last time I got to work outside was working at the tip and that wasn’t so great,” he said, laughing.
Mr Sheridan said working at the racecourse had given him new skills in a new environment.
“Thursday nights are good too because you’ve got the crowd going. It’s quite an experience for me watching the horses go around,” Mr Sheridan said.
Mr Ernst said the most exciting thing about the partnership with Pakenham Racing Club was seeing the workers they place there “grow again”.
“That sense of worth is the biggest thing. That’s what we do, we build them up,” he said.
Ms Ritson said the partnership with DVJS had made life easier.
“It is a casual workforce so it helps if you have these sorts of partnerships set up,” she said.