Big Prawn Restaurant employees Tiahn Smith (left), Catherine Garson and Amie King are keen to find new jobs in Ballina. Not present are waiters Lauren Murphy, Cecilia Griffiths and Sam Allen, and cooks Angela Dawes and Tracy Newport.
Big Prawn Restaurant employees Tiahn Smith (left), Catherine Garson and Amie King are keen to find new jobs in Ballina. Not present are waiters Lauren Murphy, Cecilia Griffiths and Sam Allen, and cooks Angela Dawes and Tracy Newport. Jay Cronan

Boom misses North Coast

A BOOM in job advertisements in NSW means unemployment rates across the State look set to fall below 6 per cent for the first time in a year, but the outlook for the North Coast is more uncertain.

One recruiting agency said the jobless in our region were still doing it tough as the nation pulls out of the global financial crisis, while another reported a slight positive change.

While it seems the hospitality industry can never get enough people to fill jobs, and the Pacific Highway upgrade has brought some increase in work opportunities, the boom reported in companies seeking staff for media and human resources positions in metropolitan NSW has not yet flowed through to the regions.

The number of job seekers receiving Newsstart or Youth Allowances dropped in several Northern Rivers centres between October and November, including by 4.5 per cent in Brunswick Heads, 1.4pc in Byron Bay, 2.7pc in Casino and 2pc in Lismore, 3.3pc in Murwillumbah and 1.9 in Tweed Heads, indicating that more than 130 people had found work in that time.

But in Ballina, Newstart numbers grew by a small percentage and that figure is set to grow with the closure of the Big Prawn Restaurant on January 24, and the prospect its eight young employees face of having to find a new job.

In a letter to The Northern Star restaurant proprietor Judy Smith has thanked her loyal staff, and made a plea to local employers to help them find new jobs.

In the eight years she had owned the restaurant, Ms Smith said she had been ‘helped enormously’ by her staff.

“For any employers out there looking for good, reliable employees, please call in and see me, as I have staff keen to find work as soon as possible after our closure,” she wrote.

Ms Smith said she would happily give a reference to every one of her staff, who are aged between 18 and 21.

“They’re learnt a few more skills in their time here, because it’s very hands-on,” she said.

The chief executive of Drake Australia, Matthew Tukaki, told Sydney media the usual December slowdown had not occurred.

“Traditionally in December you see an increase in the hiring of casual labour and a slump in permanent hirings so employers don’t have to bear the costs of holidays and carrying workers over summer.”

But this year businesses were taking on full-time, permanent staff before the talent pool shrunk and taking the risk that the economy would recover, he said.



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