Government and Komatsu get behind Gold Coast youth employment start-up

A recently formed not for profit organisation in Ormeau called Everything Suarve, dedicated to helping local disadvantaged youth find confidence and employment has begun the New Year with a substantial grant from the Queensland Government.

It has also won endorsement from the local arm of a multi-national company, increasing its prospects of making a real difference in its community.

Joe Tepuni-Fromont, 32, and Daniel Grace, 40, New Zealanders working in Queensland’s building industry, started ‘Everything-Suarve’ nearly 2 years ago in response to a need they recognised to help disengaged youngsters.

“We’d both grown up the hard way and we both felt a real desire to create a pathway for kids most people regard as ‘too hard,’ Joe said.

“But they’re not hard at all – not if you help them find a better way.”

“Everything Suarve is our way of saying: to hold yourself well. “I purposely misspelled suave, just to be different,” he claimed with a smile.

Joe and Daniel supported by their spouses and volunteers Steve Henry and Camille Pepper have created a Big Brother mentoring program which in 2021 resulted in almost 60 young people being trained in Certificate 1 construction with a job-find success rate of better than 90 percent.

Their fourth intake– Big Brother 4.0 - will conclude on February 3 with 16 graduates out of an initial intake of 19. Nine already have been placed in jobs.

The partners have secured support from Queensland Police, Youth Justice Queensland’s Education and Centrelink all of which according to Joe, recognise the importance of empowering alternative learning programs which connect with young people.

The graduation ceremony for Big Brother 4.0 will be the forum to announce a Queensland Government Local Jobs Program grant of $172,000, supported by an additional $10,000 endowment from mining and civil equipment multi-national Komatsu.

Everything-Suarve provides each participant with a ten - week program that focuses on mental wellbeing, life skills, education, qualification and pathways to employment. Most importantly the group become their own support network.

“The first two weeks are spent bonding and building trust,” Joe said.

In the second week a camping trip takes participants away from their usual environment and allows them to connect.

“Focus is on addressing the all-important issues of mental health and self-worth through mindfulness exercises that include breath work, ice baths and physical exercise activities,” Joe said.

Every Wednesday is dedicated to well-being in which facilitators create a safe space through open share circles. “Emotions and gratitude are expressed in a safe non-judgmental environment.”

Joe speaks from personal experience. “I was expelled from school at 15 and by the time I was 18 six of my friends had passed away through suicide, drug addictions and drink driving accidents.” he said.

Everything - Suarve made contact with Komatsu through Troy Johnston, Komatsu’s production manager at its nearby Wacol plant, opening the door for Everything-Suarve to realise the benefits of involvement with corporations.

Troy had access to a Komatsu community program called Live Your Dream in which employees are given the opportunity to propose worthy local activities for support.

“I’d grown up without a lot of emotional support, so I understood what Everything-Suarve was trying to achieve,” Troy said.

“It was a proud day when I was able to walk the entire Big Brother 4.0 group around my workplace and open their eyes to the opportunities that exist beyond anything they’d imagined.”

Komatsu has donated a substantial amount of Troy’s time, made a cash endowment and importantly, created a bond based on shared values, which could assist Everything-Suarve in its growth.

“We have no great ambition to become much bigger overnight,” Joe Tepuni-Fromont said.

“Quality of outcome and a dedication to our local community is our immediate goal.

“But there’s no doubt that having a major company backing us has increased our credibility.”

The government’s Local Jobs Program requires Everything-Suarve to sign up 20 young people in each of its three Big Brother semesters this year, achieve 18 graduates and have 15 employed.

“It’s all about the kids and I have no doubt they’ll meet that objective,” Joe said.

“Every young person deserves to feel love, to believe in their abilities to be a contributing member of society, to feel worthy and to receive an education and be given employment opportunities, irrespective of their backgrounds … and that’s what Everything Suarve is about.”