Kyneton beekeeper Claire Moore is sweetening the job prospects for young men ending their time in the youth justice system.
- A Kyneton beekeeper is setting up her own social enterprise to offer young men employment on parole
- Claire Moore runs Sweet Justice, a rehabilitation program in the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre
- She is hoping to help boost a struggling honey industry
Ms Moore was the apiarist behind Sweet Justice, a program kickstarted inside the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre, where young men undergo a 10-week course that teaches them the fundamentals of commercial beekeeping, in the hope of finding them employment on parole.
But she has decided to take the next step and is setting up her own social enterprise, so she can offer these young men full-time employment on release.
“Because they’ve never had any exposure to bees, it can be quite scary … but to watch their progression over 10 weeks, becoming really confident and handling them so competently, for me, is really exciting.
“So I really want to work with them for a year and help build their employment skills and build a CV.”
‘Finding and maintaining a job’
Ms Moore said that everyone understood the difficulties of finding and maintaining a job, but for these young men, there were added challenges.
“So I want to help them make it hopefully an easier transition.”
The program is going to be based in Bendigo so workers have access to services like housing and public transport.
“We want it to be a regional experience and an option for people that don’t necessarily want to work in Melbourne,” she said.
“They’ll be working with us, and working hives, producing honey, beauty products and actually selling the honey at farmers markets and making sure it’s onto shop shelves and retail outlets.
Rejuvenating the workforce
She said it was not only beneficial to these young men, but also to an aging beekeeping industry.
“At the moment, the average age of a beekeeper in Australia is 65 and we don’t have a lot of young blood in the industry, so I’m hoping the young people trained at Malmsbury will be part of the next generation of commercial beekeepers,” she said.
“We need more young beekeepers, we need more people who want to take up the job, it’s important for Australia’s food security.”
Department of Justice
The Department of Justice and Community Safety said the young men inside Malmsbury looked forward to Ms Moore’s weekly classes.
“Participants are provided with a lifelong mentor in beekeeping through Claire, and learn an in-demand skill that they can take with them into their lives beyond custody,” a DJCS spokesperson said.
“We know that to genuinely help young people to turn their lives around they need training and activities that will help them build a pathway to a career.
Mr Moore said she has been surprised at just how quickly the young men have picked up the skills.
“It’s genuinely surprised me, the boys in my program are so bright, genuinely bright, but just in a different way,” she said.
“School for them may not have worked out in a traditional sense, but in beekeeping, they can very quickly hit a Certificate III level of understanding if I use alternative teaching methods, and that fascinates me.