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
  • More young people access 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 2023, youth unemployment is more 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



The Decent Work goal has become even more relevant over the past year with youth unemployment remaining high (7.6% at December 2022, ABS), the cost of living has increased, along with high inflation and stagnant wages growth. While at the same time, skills shortages are emerging in key industries such as the care industry, construction, and IT/technical work, creating significant opportunities for meaningful entry level jobs for young people. In addition, region-focused industries such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing have ageing workforces, presenting additional opportunities for young people.

The Decent Work focus area builds upon and advances VFFF’s historical focus on supporting employment outcomes for people experiencing barriers to work. Research commissioned as part of VFFF’s strategic review process highlighted the opportunity to fund the “demand side” of youth employment – building partnerships with employers and others to grow meaningful entry level jobs for young people and work-based training opportunities, in growth industries, with solid career trajectories.

To achieve the Decent Work outcomes, VFFF’s funding strives to:

  • Improve the chances of access and success for young people in sectors offering better quality jobs
  •  Improve 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 the care industry or agribusiness
  • Value and harness young people’s experiences, aspirations, needs and preferences
  • Support employers in taking on new approaches to job design, work conditions and progression pathways, particularly where skills shortages are acute

VFFF has also learnt that a focus on supporting Work Integrated Social Enterprises (WISE) is an important consideration for our Decent Work focus area.  The WISE pipeline requires investment, working alongside other funders, intermediaries, industry groups and employers to strengthen these enterprises and the transition of young people into mainstream jobs.


Decent Work Exploration Grants


In the first 18 months of the VFFF Backing Young People strategy it has become evident that organisations often need time, encouragement and resources to consider and adopt new approaches to contributing to decent work for young people. They need to be able to consult and co-design with young people and employers, identify the evidence on potential new approaches and define and cost new service models.

To support this work, VFFF provides Decent Work Exploration Grants, to promote evidence-based innovative design to achieve decent work for young people. These grants support research and development work to generate and test the feasibility of innovative projects. The grants build a bridge between an emerging idea and strong multi-year grant proposal, which might be proposed to VFFF, or to other funders – or both.

In 2022, VFFF awarded small Decent Work Exploration Grants to a selected group of organisations reflecting VFFF’s commitment to exploring and trialling new ways of granting to offer the best support for those active in the employment space.

VFFF does not accept unsolicited applications. 


“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

Miyay Birray Youth Services

Our Impact Miyay Birray Youth Services In March 2022, Miyay Birray Youth Services hosted a Youth Forum in Moree where over 300 young people attended. At this forum, young people shared that they love their local Moree community, although the systems, infrastructure and support aren’t there for them to feel safe, secure and have the…
Read More

Current Grants

Brotherhood of St Laurence - National Youth Employment Body (NYEB) and their youth employment policy reform agenda

Jigsaw Australia - to support young people with a disability into open employment

Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Stage Queensland with Arts Centre Melbourne - Tech Connect Queensland: Towards the Tech Connect program to deliver skills training and VET qualifications to young trainees in performing arts venues across Queensland

Australian Training Company - supporting School Based Apprenticeships in Agriculture in Southeast NSW

Miyay Birray - establishment of Warrama Li, a youth employment focused social enterprise in Moree

Work Integration Social Enterprise Grant Program - collaborative grant program with other Australian philanthropic organisations that supports early stage social enterprises to create jobs and employment pathways for Australians facing barriers to employment

Habitat for Humanity - Habitat Women: Supporting end-to-end employment pathways for young women to enter the construction industry and obtain meaningful employment

White Box Enterprises - Job creation in youth focused social enterprises

Youth Enterprise Trust - to engage Sefa Partnerships to refine their social enterprise business model.

Down the Track - Support for the purchase of a permanent location for Down the Track's programs in Lake Cargelligo

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