Apprentice Voice is an initiative by the Young Workers Centre Victoria.
As an apprentice, it can be hard to know your workplace rights, what's normal at work and where to find information you can trust. Apprentice Voice campaigns for a fairer Victoria for all apprentices and runs workplace rights trainings in TAFEs for all first year apprentices.
When we know our workplace rights, we can address our workplace issues.
In 2022, 70% of YWC legal clients were apprentices. They reached out to us from a range of industries about often a hybrid of issues, including but not limited to, wage theft, bullying, harassment, and other Occupational Health and Safety issues.
Apprenticeship completion rates are low, at around 53% in Victoria. Astudy by The National Centre for Vocational Education Research found that the way apprentices are treated in their employment is the core reason why apprentices are withdrawing from their apprenticeships, not the education they are receiving at TAFE.
Given apprentices disproportionate exposure to wage theft, bullying and unsafe workplaces in Victoria, knowing their workplace rights and where to get help are core life skills that young apprentices need to enter the workforce safely.
Apprentice Voice aims to create fairer and safer workplaces for all Victorian apprentices from the beginning of their apprenticeship to completion. Apprentice voice aims to educate all Victorian apprentices to know their rights at work and where to seek support if they need it.
We want to support apprentices to affect change in their workplaces, so that the workplaces themselves are more conducive to apprenticeship success, and so that apprentices are better aware of how to address issues that arise at any stage of their employment.
Together we have the power to make every workplace better.
Young Workers Centre
The Young Workers Centre is a one-stop-shop for young workers, aged 30 and under in Victoria, who want to learn more about their rights at work or who need assistance in resolving workplace issues.
Our team of lawyers, organisers, educators, and researchers seek to empower young people working in Victoria with the knowledge and skills needed to end workplace exploitation and insecurity.
We deliver workplace rights training to young Victorians as well as produce resources aimed at assisting young people to understand their rights at work and social events for young people who want to get involved in the fight for safe and secure jobs.
Since 2016 the YWC has delivered workplace rights training to over 50,000 students in Victoria, assisted 2400 young workers with workplace issues and recovered more than $2 million in compensation for young workers.
The Centre is also an accredited community legal centre and provides personalised advice for young people who have come across issues at work such as unfair dismissal, bullying and harassment.
We strongly believe that we can limit the risk to young people through education and the integration of comprehensive workplace rights education is key to equipping young workers to advocate for themselves at work and keep them safe early on in their working life.
Meet the team!
With their own experiences and perspectives each member of our team makes the Young Workers Centre as successful as it is in helping young workers.
Whether it be support through a workplace issue or educating young people about their rights as they move into working life.
James (he/him) began his union journey after reaching out to the Young Workers Centre for help while working in hospitality and is passionate about the role young people have in ending wage theft.
Since then he has participated in Union Summer 2018, volunteered with Hospo Voice and campaigned during the state and federal elections. James loves a good dinner party, plays Dungeons & Dragons every week and starts hobby projects faster than he can finish them.
Kelly uses her legal skills to work in service of working people and their unions. Dignity at work and dignity of work are important guides for Kelly’s approach to helping employees and ensuring that employers do the right thing. Prior to coming to YWC, Kelly worked for a national union and a national plaintiff law firm, as well as the Fair Work Commission.
She is proud of her advocacy for workers and highlights winning a huge compensation payment by the Supreme Court for a young victim of sexual assault. Working on the $100million class action for workers with an intellectual disability who were underpaid will always be an honour for her.
Outside of work, Kelly enjoys walking her dog, Harvey, having a laugh and is otherwise busy raising a future feminist.
Lauren (she/her) came to be involved in the union movement during her years as a hospitality worker where she commonly encountered and saw her friends encounter dodgy workplace practices! She was an advocate at the Young Workers Centre in Semester 2, 2019. She has recently finished her law degree.
She also enjoys spending time with her menagerie of animals, being outdoors and over-investing in TV shows.
Wallace (he/him) has always been a political nerd and passionate about workers' rights. It's no surprise that most of his working life has been dedicated to unionism and community organising. Prior to joining the Young Workers Centre, Wallace was an industrial organiser at the Migrant Workers Centre.
When Wallace is not spending quality time with his two cats, he can also be found around Melbourne chasing the best cheap eats and latest food trends.
Advocate Team Leaders:
Rae (she/her) was introduced to unions and workplace rights at a time where she and her co-workers were being substantially underpaid. Her experience with wage theft sparked a passion to ensure that other young workers weren’t being taken advantage of in the same way.
Rae was an advocate at the Young Workers Centre in the summer of 2020 and again in Semester 2, 2020. She is currently completing her law degree and spends her free time picking up an array of hobbies including knitting, rollerblading, finishing jigsaw puzzles and trying to find the best coffee spot in Melbourne.
Bree (she/her) has been a union member all her working life, but really came to be involved in activism during her time at university through community organising and student politics. She was an advocate at the Young Workers Centre in Semester 2 2021 and participated in Union Winter in 2022. She has since completed her law degree and is now pursuing a law masters in employment and labour relations law.
Outside of YWC, Bree works as a research assistant and spends her spare time hanging out in her local coffee shop, catching up on reading.
Josie (she/her) has studied climate change through the social science discipline and is obsessed with the idea that we can fix so many of our societal problems by winning back worker power from the billionaires. She came to be involved in the union movement when she attended the YWC conference on climate justice and has been a passionate unionist ever since.
She only wishes she had found unionism back when she was being exploited by dodgy bosses so she could have helped her and her co-workers wrangle back thousands of dollars of stolen wages! Oops!
Outside of YWC she organises for a climate jobs guarantee with Tomorrow Movement, spends time appreciating nature, and writes.
Neo (he/they) is a secondary student-teacher. Having worked in a variety of industries he has dealt first hand with the exploitation and mistreatment young workers face everyday, but has always found the unions to be the greatest support.
Neo lives by the mantra “Solidarity Forever”, finding that it’s always best to stand by fellow workers against oppression. He’s passionate about growing the union movement, and being a student-teacher, knows that knowledge is strength.
Outside of the YWC Neo loves the Essendon F.C, plays cricket, studies Irish language and writes.
Madi (she/her) has dedicated herself to the union movement since 2018 when she was 19, serving as a union delegate in the Market and Social Research Call Centre industry. Her primary focus is on inspiring young workers to join unions and actively participate as rank-and-file members within their workplaces. Madi possesses a passion for social justice and firmly believes in the power of working people to drive meaningful societal transformations.
Outside of her union work, Madi is pursuing a degree in Sociology and loves to spend her leisure time with her Greyhound, Polly.
Monique (she/her) has worked with Youth for many years, primarily helping young people who have experienced disadvantage, marginalisation, and a range of barriers to employment. She came to be involved with the Union whilst being surrounded & inspired by people in her life who showed her the power of the Union movement.
She is passionate about helping young people have a positive, not only first experience, but career in employment and hopes to educate young workers on their rights & safety whilst in employment, as well as support workers to create positive experiences while in the workforce.
Outside of YWC she enjoys spending time with her puppy Toby, weekends at the snow and slow rainy days at home.’
Siane (she/her) has a background in education and is passionate about young people’s wellbeing. Far from just a morning journal and a walk (though she is partial to both those things), Siane sees wellbeing as a structural issue and is passionate about young people leading the changes that effect them.
Siane’s also had her fair share of dodgy bosses and is proud to be helping young people have positive experiences at work. Outside of the YWC Siane loves sitting in the sun, eating and swimming.
Martina (she/her) joined the YWC because she is committed to promoting the rights of young people and ensuring that their voices are not only heard, but that they are taken seriously. After working in hospitality and retail jobs, Martina understands firsthand how young people are often mistreated at work. With a Youth Work background, Martina is committed to ensuring that young people understand what their rights are and are equipped to stand up to workplace injustices.
Outside of the YWC, Martina loves movies, music, sport, and spending time watching football with her dad.