"I JUST need somebody to believe in me and give me a chance. Not many people do. I feel they judge me before they know me, which is hard."
Meet Giang Tram.
The 22-year-old was born in Vietnam, emigrated to Australia with her mother and elder brother about a decade ago and independently made her way to Newcastle.
She went to a local high school but dropped out, later approaching the Salvos' Hunter Oasis Youth Service for help to gain employability skills. There, she completed a Certificate Three in hospitality.
"I get to meet people and it teaches me how to talk because I am very introverted," Giang says, adding that she likes making people happy by serving them food.
Last year, she worked at a hotel in Newcastle, an experience she found rewarding but difficult.
"It was hard because there was so much to learn but I got to learn how to manage my time properly and act more mature. And the people were very good to me there," she says.
"But the hours were difficult for me because sometimes I am on medication to sleep so I couldn't maintain."
Giang is on medication for anxiety and depression and says her health can at times affect her outlook.
However, she is continuing to study and look for work.
This year she began her Certificate Four diploma in hospitality management at Hamilton TAFE, until the coronavirus struck and closed the facility.
"I wanted to get a job out of it. I just wanted to be a normal waitress or a team leader and wanted to know how to make Australian coffee," she says.
Currently supported by JobKeeper, Giang is also completing the Drive For Life program, run from the Salvo's Oasis Hunter centre, which helps youth aged between 12 and 25, in Hamilton.
"I always wanted to learn how to drive and it gives me opportunity to build my skills ... I feel like Drive for Life will give me more freedom and choices," Giang says.
Giang, who lost her casual job at a Hamilton restaurant early in the year, says finding a job remains very important to her.
"It means I can travel around and learn more stuff and learn how to communicate with people, to interact with people," she says.
The young woman believes her "very shy" personality might restrict her from finding a job, but in the same breadth she is ready to accept any opportunity.
"I would give it a go," she says. "I am quite bubbly and I have a good smile."
Giang doesn't dream of a big important job, but she does dream.
"I just want to work as a waitress. My dream impossible is to learn how to be a baker."
She pauses and looks at her phone.
"My friend just texted me and said she knew of a Chinese restaurant looking for waitresses so I have my fingers crossed."
Drive for Life co-ordinator Jean Rennie said Giang was "typical" of many of the young people assisted in the program and, more broadly, by the Salvos.
"The most common health issue would be anxiety. With everyone who comes to us, we'll say, 'Do you have any mental health issues that might affect your ability to drive?' And it may not be diagnosed and they may not be on medication but it's a big thing," she says.
Ms Rennie said the Drive For Life program, funded by Glencore, was offered to young people who did not have typical family networks to aid them to get their driver's licence, a crucial factor in boosting their employment chances.
"Quite a lot of jobs ask for you to have a driver's licence, and particularly for young people who are in the hospitality industry it's often a really early start or late finish, whatever hospitality industry you may be in [the employer] is more likely to take someone who has their own transport. In Newcastle there is no public transport for, say, young boys who are doing labouring work and need to get to a site early," she says.
Beyond being able to drive, she said, the program gives participants a sense of independence and confidence, which was just as important.
Giang has completed half of her driving hours and, says Ms Rennie, is "doing well".
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