“I pretty much made this coffee table. I never thought [I was capable of doing that]. Now, I can’t get enough of it.”
When 32-year-old Christopher Oram began his safe use of motorised carpentry tools training, he discovered how much he loved creating and building things.
He, along with dozens of other learners in Rockhampton, are part of our Upcycle Village traineeship, a 20-week paid training program delivered in partnership with the Rockhampton Regional Council.
At the Upcycle Village, disadvantaged youth and people from migrant and First Nations communities gain design and carpentry skills to upcycle furniture supplied by Resource Recovery Australia.
The finished items are then given to families transitioning from homelessness to secure housing. Prior to starting the traineeship, the then stay-at-home father of three was looking for opportunities to develop new skills and experience outside of his farming background, something he’d always wanted since he started working in agriculture at 16 years old.
“Normally, I’m like out on the farm, like in the shadows,” Christopher said.
“And then Into Jobs (Centrelink’s job provider in the region), helped me and suggested that I go to Multicultural Australia.”
“They said they’re good people and that it would be a good experience.”
Since starting the training in May 2023, Christopher has repurposed old furniture using wooden pallets and other resources often disregarded as waste.
“I didn’t realize exactly how much you could make out of pallets! I was like, wow, we’re making Christmas trees, snowman and bowling tables.”
“I’d come home and talk to my kids about it, taking pictures of things that I’m making.”
“We got some big old tables – we’ve been trying to fill in the old cracks and make it pretty again. We’ve had some people come up offering our supervisor like $300. We haven’t even finished the table!”
The circular economy of repurposing pre-loved items to reduce waste and help those in need has had a significant impact on Christopher.
It did not take long for Christopher Oram to reap the rewards of his traineeship at the Upcycle Village in Rockhampton. It happened when his first creation was raffled out.
“It was a really nice coffee table that Multicultural Australia raffled. I actually won the raffle.”
But more than the thrill of gaining ownership of his first work, Christopher said it is the experience of working with different people from various backgrounds that he found to be truly rewarding.
“I’ve worked on the farm for so long that it was just like the old farmers and the old ways of how they work – rough and tough. When I came here, it was a completely different experience. People have different kinds of opinions and views on things. That helped me see a lot differently.”