Our Grants

Group 300

Decent Work

Funding goal

Employer driven, innovative models for work that integrate learning to ensure young people gain the work and experience they need and value.

Funding outcomes

  • Increased employer engagement in work-based learning relevant to the needs of local industry
  • Increased entry level jobs for young people
  • Smoother transitions for young people from entry level jobs to decent, secure work

WHY ‘Decent Work’?

Young people share a desire for many of the same things their parents wanted: job security, permanent employment and pay that covers the costs of living. Having a decent job is crucial to the life chances and wellbeing of young people. Yet they currently experience significant employment challenges:

  • Young people are remaining in insecure and low paid work much longer than their parents and grandparents.
  • Over the last decade, the availability of full-time entry-level jobs, including apprenticeships, has declined.
  • In 2022, youth unemployment is double the rate of unemployment for other working age people.
  • Rates of underemployment are also high for young people, especially for those aged 15-19.
  • 25 per cent of 19 to 24-year-olds face significant challenges breaking into the labour market.
  • Not participating in education, employment or training for young people under 20 reduces their chances of being able to get started later.

What can Decent Work grants achieve?

The youthie - Nambucca Head youth club

Consultations for the Decent Work program late in 2021 showed VFFF that although there are many employment programs focused on improving the job readiness of young people, fewer initiatives are focused on employers and industries creating roles that meet the needs of young people trying to get into the labour market.

Click here for a map of pain points in the education, skills and employment services systems that were identified through the consultations. This highlights the value of working closer to the interface between employers and young people.

This snapshot of skills in demand shows the industries where there is significant jobs growth and entry level opportunities; for example, in health care and social assistance, construction, and some IT/technical work. Region-focused industries such as mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, forestry and fishing have ageing workforces and need younger workers too.

The strategic choices for Decent Work initiatives are to:

  • improve the chances of access and success for young people in sectors offering better quality jobs, such as in IT or education services
  • improve where possible the quality, conditions, and design of jobs in sectors offering a high volume of jobs, but which have not typically appealed to young people, such as jobs in aged care or agribusiness.

Learning from young people about their experiences, aspirations, needs and preferences will be a vital condition of either approach.

Which social enterprises for Decent Work?

VFFF is also researching social enterprises that can create employment and future job pathways for young people.  Work Integrated Social Enterprises in regional and rural areas are scarce, especially in NSW/Qld,  and youth-specific WISEs are also rare. Another challenge is aligning the kinds of skills and jobs typically found in social enterprises with future workforce needs.

This summary report on social enterprises shows what VFFF has been looking for, and what we are learning.


Decent Work Exploration Grants


The investigations described above, put together with VFFF’s other funding experience, identified an opportunity for VFFF to provide exploration grants to support organisations when developing proposals for decent work outcomes for young people.

VFFF awarded small Decent Work Exploration Grants to a selected group of organisations in 2022. The grants are intended to contribute to the development, design and feasibility testing for prospective projects that align with the goal of the Decent Work program.

Exploration Grants will enable organisations to understand and respond to new labour market conditions, bring both evidence and creativity to new possible service/support models for young people and employers, and develop deeper partnerships that can bring together the existing contributions of community organisations, government programs, and relevant employers or industry groups.

VFFF does not accept unsolicited applications. We will commence granting in this focus area in 2022 following Decent Work Exploration Grant activities. 


“Human beings are in the main active purposeful creatures and they want to know what “to do” not what “not to do”. Give them a positive lead and they will follow it.”

Sir Vincent Fairfax
Address for the Country Women’s Association at the Opening of Summer Leadership School, Warwick QLD, January 1954.

Case Studies

White Box Enterprises

Our Impact White Box Enterprises White Box Enterprises has a bold vision – a thriving jobs-focused social enterprise sector that creates secure, long-term employment for the most vulnerable people in our communities. To achieve this, they have big goals – creating 5000 jobs for young job seekers by 2030 and transforming Australia’s youth employment system…
Read More

Current Grants

Habitat for Humanity - Habitat Women
Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Stage Queensland with Arts Centre Melbourne - Tech Connect Queensland
White Box Enterprises – Job creation in youth focused social enterprises

Project Etico – Hotel Etico training and employment program for young people with an intellectual disability
Decent Work Exploration Grants
Down the Track -  Securing a Home for Down the Track 

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