By CASEY NEILL
“PLACES like Doveton were prosperous, which means they can be again.”
This was the message from guest speaker Dennis Glover at the Greater Dandenong Chamber of Commerce Premier Regional Business Awards at Sandown Greyhounds in Springvale on 12 April.
The professional speechwriter and author urged guests to get behind The Doveton Project – a push to tackle unemployment in the suburb, which is more than three times the national average at 12 per cent.
Dr Glover grew up in the suburb and said that General Motors, International Harvester and Heinz provided 7500 jobs during his childhood.
Doveton is home to 2500 houses so that was three and a half jobs per household.
He said Doveton’s unemployment rate of one per cent for much of its history, but had skyrocketed in the wake of the big three departing during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Dr Glover returned to Doveton to write a book and found broken streets, low expectations for educational achievements and stories about drugs and crime.
He urged guests at the gala to “help an area the economy has let down”.
“We can find jobs,” he said.
“I think we can find places for them if we really try.
“We have to try.”
MC Jamie Sturgess asked guests to electronically register their interest in supporting The Doveton Project and received more than 100 responses.
“You’re saying ‘I care and I want to get involved if I possibly can’,” he said.
“If some of the people in this room employed some of the people in that Doveton area …”
Mr Sturgess said manufacturing jobs in the region had stayed relatively constant.
“But it seems that Doveton has not secured its ‘fair share’ of those jobs,” he said.
“Doveton’s plight needs to be a focus – the key is finding appropriate jobs for the people of Doveton.
“The answer lies in investing in human capital – your commitment to creating jobs, giving the Doveton people more security and building a thriving working class community.”
Part of The Doveton Project push is a SEBN industry breakfast scheduled for Tuesday 3 May.
The Tap into the Talent event at Highways in Springvale will feature businessman, philanthropist and 2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon.
The Dandenong-raised chairman of AMP Limited and Monash University chancellor will speak about how business and philanthropy go hand in hand and how the approach benefits all.
Bombardier Transportation managing director Rene Lalande will speak about government tenders and the employment responsibilities that are now an integral part of submission criteria.
A renewed focus on local and diverse employment directly impacts the success of tenderers like Bombardier.
Visit www.greaterdandenong.com to get involved.