Joel reconnects with culture through employment

By day, Joel Henderson is a surveyor for the Worimi Aboriginal Land Council managing traditional sites and cultural materials in the Port Stephens area. By night, the 40-year-old spends hours working on his Aboriginal art practice.

It sounds like an idyllic lifestyle for the proud Worimi man, but Mr Henderson said getting the balance right hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

“Only 14 months ago, I found myself unemployed and living out of my car - it all happened so quickly. One minute I was working as a labourer with a roof over my head, and then a serious head injury changed everything, and I lost my job,” Mr Henderson said.

“You could call it hitting rock bottom and the only way out of it was to find my purpose again.”

That’s when Mr Henderson was signed up to the Australian Government’s Workforce Australia program through Centrelink. It was there he was introduced to not-for-profit employment, training and apprenticeships provider VERTO, and he believes it was a meeting that helped him get his life back on track.

“There’s so much support and mentoring available for people who find themselves in challenging circumstances and need a hand finding work,” Mr Henderson said.

“Thankfully I was approached by Worimi Aboriginal Land Council about doing some work locally and I couldn’t be happier. I’m enjoying the work and reconnecting with my culture.

“My advice to anyone who is struggling or living in difficult circumstances, is you can break the cycle if you stay positive and focused.

“For me, working on my art practice was great therapy and helped me through some dark days. Find something you enjoy that gives you peace and make the most of the support on offer.

“There are organisations out there like VERTO that can help you find a job and give you the support you need to stay on track. I think with the right support, anything is possible,” he said.

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell believes Mr Henderson’s story is an inspirational one for all job seekers, and one that should encourage others to seek help when they need it.

“It can be difficult and extremely daunting to know where to start when finding a job, but Joel is proof that anything is possible, and help is at hand,” Mr Maxwell said.

“This is a wonderful and inspiring story of how employment can transform someone’s life. I’m proud that the team at Raymond Terrace was able to help Joel and support him as he transitioned into his new role at Worimi Aboriginal Land Council.”

If you are a job seeker, please reach out to VERTO’s experienced Employment Consultants for support on 1300 483 786, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit for more information. 


VERTO is a 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 more than 65 locations across New South Wales. For more information, visit