Three years ago, Blake Sutherland was working as a full-time scaffolder in Sydney when a series of stressful and painful life events turned his life upside down.
“I lost my father, and then I separated from my partner and mother of my son, and I couldn’t get it together. I was 27 at the time and going nowhere fast,” he said.
“That period of time was tainted by poor decisions and three years of living on Centrelink benefits. I couldn’t see a way forward in Sydney, so I moved to Dubbo at the start of this year to be closer to family support.”
Once Blake relocated to Dubbo, he was required to attend appointments with employment, training and apprenticeships provider VERTO as part of his Centrelink and Workforce Australia obligations.
“I thought to myself – here we go again! Another job provider to tick a few boxes for Centrelink - but I can honestly say working with VERTO was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had in the past three years,” Mr Sutherland said.
“My mentor Sonyia really believed in me and genuinely cared about seeing me succeed.
“She got to work quickly enrolling me in large machinery training, and I’ve now got my ticket to operate front-end loaders, excavators, rollers and skid steer loaders. This has helped me land work with my new employer MAAS Group.
“I’ve now got a clear path forward and can see a bright future ahead – that felt impossible nearly three years ago when I hit rock bottom.”
VERTO Workforce Australia Team Leader Sonyia Bernie said she was incredibly proud to witness Blake completely turn his life around.
“When Blake first came to VERTO, I could tell straight away there was so much potential there – he was enthusiastic, keen to work and willing to do anything to get ahead,” she said.
“In the space of a week, we had him all trained up and working, and I’m just so happy to see him doing well – it’s a real credit to him.”
VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell believes Blake is an inspiration for all job seekers and an example that should encourage others to seek help when needed.
“It can be overwhelming to know where to start when you need to find a job, but Blake is proof that anything is possible, and quality help is available,” Mr Maxwell said.
“Blake’s story demonstrates that training and employment can significantly transform someone’s future for the better. The outcome is a testament his tenacity and the dedicated VERTO Dubbo team, who continue to go above and beyond to help their clients.”
VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 40 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit verto.org.au.