Job readiness training — with an Australian twist

Job readiness training — with an Australian twist

Source: | By Aaron Nicodemus

The Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board has brought in an Australian company to help low-income young people find jobs — and more importantly, to keep them.

Bounce Consulting, founded in 2006, has employed its unique brand of life-coaching and social skills training only in Australia. Worcester is Bounce’s first attempt to translate its success there to the U.S.

This week, Worcester youths age 17 to 21 met with Bounce trainers for a week-long orientation program. The youths will be placed in jobs throughout the community for seven weeks, to be coached by Bounce trainers before and after work. Eventually, 100 young people in Worcester will go through the Bounce program.

According to Bounce CEO Maria Smith, about 85 percent of the participants in Australia have gone on to get jobs, she said. In Australia, the program is not limited to youths but is available to job seekers of all ages, she said.

I asked her about job-retention rates, that is, how long those job seekers kept their jobs, but she did not have those figures at her fingertips.

“We are really bringing in a layer of emotional intelligence,” said Ms. Smith, who has been in Worcester for the past week. “This is a buzzword in terms of corporate America. Anyone can learn a skill, but it’s hard to teach social awareness, to show how to act in all kinds of social interactions.”

The program, she explained, first works with job seekers to get them to “engage” with the Bounce trainers. The trainers work with the job seekers to build their confidence, to clarify their employment goals and to develop realistic next steps to make those goals happen. That is in addition to the basic job-finding techniques of how to look for jobs, how to write résumés and how to act and dress in job interviews.

Bounce is a for-profit company that is funded by federal tax dollars in Australia, she said. Here, at least in Worcester, it will be funded with state money.

Jeff Turgeon, the executive director of the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, said the Bounce program came to his attention at a workforce conference held in Central Massachusetts, where Ms. Smith was a speaker. He was “blown away,” he remembered.

“It’s a new approach on delivering very old material in a totally new way,” he said. “There is a whole new level of focus with this program. They build up a rapport with the job seekers, they talk to them about verbal and nonverbal communication. It’s a completely different take on job readiness training, and I’m really excited about it.”

Bounce Consulting “offers life-changing courses and products designed to help job seekers build confidence, break down mental roadblocks and hone skills, changing the lives of countless executives, at-risk teens and even the homeless, as well as the broader business and professional community with ongoing training contracts in sales motivation, business planning, and community and personal development programs,” according to its press release.

Ms. Smith has published a book, “The Guide to Getting the Job You Want,” and has been in Worcester with two Australian trainers, getting the program here up and running. Eventually, American trainers will take over from the Aussies.

Helping young people find jobs has been a particularly vexing problem for as long as state government has been trying to help them.

While unemployment nationwide for all age groups hovers around 7 percent, for young people, the rate is usually double that rate.

According to data provided by Generation Opportunity, a conservative nonprofit organization advocating for economic opportunity for young adults, the overall U.S. unemployment rate for youths age 18 to 29 was 15.9 percent in December 2013.

For African Americans, the rate was 24.2 percent, and it was 16.7 percent for Hispanics.

If Bounce can turn some of these numbers around, perhaps it will be implemented elsewhere in the U.S.

Worcester, it seems, is the test case.

Maria bounces into the American market

Maria bounces into the American market

Source: | By Chris Pedler Feb. 10, 2014, 5 p.m.

EXPANDING: Maria Smith’s employment consultancy business is launching in America. Picture:

A BUSINESS and its Carisbrook origins is expanding into America.

Maria Smith’s business Bounce Consulting will launch a pilot program for the stage government of Massachusetts this week.

The program is a result of a meeting at the White House in July with President Obama’s chief technology officer Todd Park and a lot of back and forth since then.

Bounce Consulting focuses on helping people find employment and improve their lives against the odds.

“It’s been running for seven and a half years,” Ms Smith said.

“I think (the US) like (the program) because it has got results and we have a consistency to our product.”

Ms Smith said the unemployment scene in America is different to Australia in that there is no unemployment benefits or insurance.

“If you are unemployed long term you get support for about a year,” she said.

Currently the US unemployment rate is at 6.7 per cent. It has recently dropped but President Obama’s team is hoping Bounce Consulting’s program can make it drop further.

“It’s been pretty incredible. Obama’s legacy is to leave something for the long-term unemployed. We will see how it goes (in Massachusetts) and then decide whether to roll it out nationally,” Ms Smith said. “I’m from Maryborough, it’s exciting to have this experience.”

The program links in with employment agencies to give those seeking work valuable life skills, including people in prison and those who are homeless.

Ms Smith said seven staff and seven trainers, including people overseas, worked for the agency.

At the same time, Bounce Consulting is expanding through regional Victoria.

In March it will launch a youth program in Bendigo.

The federally funded program focus on youth health and well being as well as creating career and personal goals for the participants.

“Part of it will see the kids cold calling for job (opportunities),” Ms Smith said.

“We’re conditioned to apply online or just send your resume in rather than sitting in front of someone who can help you get a job.”

Bounce Boss Wins Big

Bounce Boss Wins Big

On November 9, 2013, at a lavish awards ceremony in New York’s famous Times Square, Maria Smith of Bounce Consulting was named winner of the silver Stevie in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category.

But it wasn’t just one win for Bounce – it was two. Bounce Consulting also snagged the bronze award in the Communications category for its piece entitled The Bounce Manifesto.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honour women executives, entrepreneurs, employees worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

More than 1,200 entries were submitted this year for consideration in more than 90 categories, including Executive of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Communications Campaign of the Year.

“Being recognised with these two awards is such a great feeling,” says Smith. “Being surrounded in that environment of 300 powerful business women created such a great energy. Winning the silver and bronze just took everything up a notch.”

Finalists were chosen by more than 140 business professionals worldwide during preliminary judging. More than 90 members of the five final judging committees determined the winners.

“For 10 years we have been recognising the achievements of women in business, and this year’s nominations were the most impressive class we’ve ever reviewed,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards.

Bounce Culture: New uses for tin foil

Bounce Culture: New uses for tin foil

Meet Lachlan, our travel-frustrated IT guy. Whilst being left alone in the office for a week, Lachlan found Tin Foil deep within the bounce kitchen cupboards. This is what came about…

Bounce Boss Scores International Honour

Bounce Boss Scores International Honour

Everyone’s bouncing at Bounce’s HQ today with the news that Bounce Director Maria Smith has been named as a finalist in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand category in the 10th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, and will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Award winner in the program. This international honour may be one of Bounce’s greatest achievements to date.

Adding to the excitement, Bounce is represented in an additional Stevie Award category, for Communications or PR Campaign of the Year – Internal Communications for The Bounce Manifesto

Upon hearing the news, the entire team cheered out loud as it was announced in their 10 at 10 Meeting. “It was great to announce to the team and see their reaction,” says Smith. “I truly appreciate the recognition in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year award, and to have a communications piece — that is based on the amazing company culture here at Bounce — it truly is a group effort.”

Smith will be flying to New York in November to accept her bronze, silver or gold award. The winners will be announced November 8th during a formal gala and awards presentation.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honours women executives, entrepreneurs, employees and the companies they run – worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

Finalists were chosen by more than 140 business professionals worldwide during preliminary judging. More than 90 members of the five final judging committees will determine the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists.

“For 10 years we have been recognising the achievements of women in business, and this year’s nominations were the most impressive class the judges have ever reviewed,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards. “We look forward to seeing the final judges’ decisions and honouring this year’s Stevie winners in New York next month.”

United mental health sector calls for real mental health reform

United mental health sector calls for real mental health reform

An alliance of 46 mental health sector organisations and stakeholders are calling on all political parties to commit to five specific and sustainable reforms to mental health services, following the release of the most significant Report into mental health in over a decade.

The Report, Obsessive Hope Disorder: Reflections on 30 years of mental health reform in Australia and visions for the future, was launched by former Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Brian Burdekin AO on 6 August, at the start of the Federal Election campaign.

Today, an alliance of community and stakeholder organisations is calling for all political parties to respond to the ‘Manifesto for Change’ set out in the Obsessive Hope Disorder Report.

Adjunct Professor John Mendoza, Director of ConNetica and former Chair of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, instigated the Report.

“For the millions of Australians with mental health problems, access to effective care remains a daily challenge. For decades, people with mental health problems and their families have lived in hope that someday their needs will count as much as those afflicted with cancer, cardiovascular disease or other common health conditions where we have seen dramatic improvements in care, quality of life and life expectancy,” John Mendoza said.

“The signatory organisations to this statement and the Manifesto for Change represent millions of Australians and present a real and sustained strategy for mental health reform. The five key areas of sustained reform being called for are:

  • An end to the confusion of accountability for funding between federal and state / territory governments
  • The development of a national service framework and model of community based mental health care
  • The development of a national workforce plan for mental health
  • Funding directed to evidence based services and research, and
  • Accountability for the money spent on services to see if they are actually working.”

“The signatories believe that the time for our political leaders to respond is now. Australians deserve to know before 7 September which party will make mental health reform a priority and what they have planned,” John Mendoza said.

“We are calling on all political parties to support the recommendations of the Report. The Greens have released their mental health policy, along with their previously released rural mental health policy. Their policies, in line with the Report, include the need for an anti-stigma campaign and establishing a National Institute for Mental Health Research. Focusing on mental health services that are community-based and put people first is the right approach, along with emphasising prevention and early intervention. We await policies from Labor and the Coalition”.

Professor Patrick McGorry, 2010 Australian of the Year and Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health in Victoria, contributed his views on mental health reform.

“While vital momentum for desperately needed change in reform is being built in the community and our new political leadership, there are some immediate and decisive steps we need to take. First we need to finish the task of constructing a comprehensive system of early intervention and youth mental health care through the headspace and EPPIC reforms,” Patrick McGorry said.

“Secondly we urgently need to stop the haemorrhaging of care at community level and to demand that State governments and hospital CEO’s ring fence community mental health budgets and strengthen mental health governance with the health system, And thirdly Federal investments for the seriously mentally ill must shift to practical evidence based programs in housing, employment and assertive community treatment.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon, an Indigenous Australian psychologist and National Mental Health Commissioner, spoke about the urgent need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health to be a priority

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health must be a priority. The situation is in a critical state that requires focus and planning at all levels. This must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with support and partnerships, and recognising cultural concepts such as connection to land and community,” Pat Dudgeon said.

David Meldrum, Executive Director, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia talked about the need for accountability and leadership in mental health.

“Overall, progress has been slow and patchy. Some brilliant initiatives have emerged at state and federal levels, and as a society we have come a long way in bringing mental illness out of the closet. But the overall reform process still lacks ongoing national leadership, good data and accountability,” David Meldrum said.

“We simply can’t get to the end of this decade to find people with severe mental illness still living 25 years less than the rest of the population and with hundreds taking their own lives every year. Their quality of life reflects on our collective failures. We know we can do so much better, but a few good budget measures every few years doesn’t anywhere near cut it.

The list of signatories is included below.

Media inquiries – Amanda Bresnan 0417 193 407


Act Belong Commit Mentally Healthy WA Campaign
Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health

Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

The Butterfly Foundation Carers ACT

Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University
Choice Support Services
ConNetica Consulting

Professor Pat Dudgeon – Research Fellow, University WA and National Mental Health Commissioner
Heal For Life

Inspire Foundation
Mark James – United Synergies

Mary Lawson – long-term mental health consumer advocate

Mental Illness Fellowship Australia
Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre Movember Men’s Health Foundation
Anthony Smith – suicide prevention researcher Neami National
NESA (National Employment Services Association)
Stephen Niemiec – Psychiatric Nurse and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Sunshine Coast
Nick O’Connor – Clinical Director, North Shore Ryde Mental Health Service
Paul O’Halloran – Senior Clinical Psychologist Orygen Youth Health
OzHelp Foundation

Ingrid Ozols – Mental Health at Work and long term mental health consumer advocate
Mick Palmer AO – former AFP Commissioner and Director Australia21

Perth Central and East Metro Medicare Local Anita Philips – ACT Public Advocate Queensland Youth Industry Links
Rajiv Ramanathan – Practical Visionaries Richmond Fellowship Queensland

Richmond Fellowship of WA ROAM Communities

Professor Alan Rosen – Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Wollongong and Deputy Commissioner, NSW Mental Health Commission Dr Lesley Russell – Senior Research Fellow, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Enviornment

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla – Professor of Disability and Mental Health, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, The University of Sydney

SANE Australia Smiling Minds

Anthony Smith – Suicide prevention researcher and former Board Member Suicide Prevention Australia
Maria Smith – Bounce Consulting

Standtall for PTS
Suicide Prevention Australia

Professor Colin Tatz AO – visiting fellow Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Ted Noffs Foundation

Nicci Wall – long-time mental health consumer advocate

Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre