64. George Giuliani

12 Apr

DSC_0178George Giuliani is the CEO of not-for-profit E-focus, an employment and community development centre in Heidelberg. The service aims to help people from all walks of life in Banyule, particularly youth to access training, apprenticeship and careers counselling who might otherwise struggle to do so on their own. Aside from the vision, I immediately see why the organisation is so successful- the office feels just as friendly and supportive as its CEO.

George leads me to his homely office and is keen to get to business. He says “(it’s about) really hearing what people have to say, engaging in their stories…that’s true throughout all of life.”

All E-focus’ services and programs embody this sentiment well. From the Disability Employment Services, Training and Apprenticeships, to “just helping people look at their options and talking about their ambitions,” E-focus “…blends training and support” in a way that helps people feel welcome and cared for.

George becomes delightfully animated as he emphasises that one of the key things he’s learnt in his career for anyone to gain employment is that “relationships (are) the building blocks…use networks, friends and family that you know…don’t just rely online.” He also drives home the point that a key part of not only finding a job but staying in the workforce is “transferring your passion into work.”

George lives up this idea spectacularly. He says helping people in a humanitarian way is “in his blood” as he “comes from a big (Italian migrant) family.” George completed year 12 (HSC in those days) but did not pass enough subjects to go to university. In his mid-20s after a variety of jobs and five years as an upholsterer he studied youth work and then family therapy part time which eventually put him in the position to “study a doctorate in social work…so as to have a theoretical framework (to work with.)” Such a framework has helped George connect and help people with the challenges they face and contribute to government social policy on employment / unemployment.

The challenges that Banyule faces in terms of employment and upholding livelihoods include catering for “an aging population (and) young migrant families from Somalian, Lebanese and Sudanese communities,” as well as “helping young people and people with disabilities enter mainstream employment.”

To continually meet these challenges, E-focus’ programs have evolved overtime, along with the local community, just as the “nature of work has changed,” George said. Therefore, the programs emphasis on things like “soft skills, how to keep self-motivated…how to relate to your employer” are core elements of helping people get back to work.

George is eager to discuss the importance of not only overcoming challenges that your work faces but also meeting the challenge of taking care of yourself. In finding “a professional balance…you need to care about what you do, and have solid motivation, but…also practise self-care. You need to not burn out, or else you get detached.” George says that his “family life and (having) tough beginnings” have served as the most personal growth for him, and have also given him the biggest personal rewards.

The best professional reward, George believes that E-focus successfully continues to meet Banyule’s challenges. The organisation continues to thrive and outlive George’s vision of “encouraging people to be the best they can be and giving them the credit.”

This is because George and the 75 E-focus members of staff continue to acknowledge that Banyule is diverse, constantly finding ways for “different groups to interact with each other, to gain mutual understanding and engagement in different cultures and lifestyles.” This way, George explains, “…we can be respectful of difference…listen and learn from each other…even if we don’t always agree or understand each other.”

One final piece of advice George is eager to leave me with is the idea of “finding things you’re passionate about… (and using it) to give back to the community.” With a knowing smile, he tells me “you’ll get more back from giving than you can ever imagine.”

Words: Taylor Carre-Riddell

Photo: Jason Rohmursanto

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