blog 190208 employment

Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’. Dolly would do well to expand on this! Sure, employment provides us with a pay check to live, yet there is much more to it.

The daily grind also provides us with social connection, routine and purpose. Other perks of working, besides the cash, is that having a job can greatly benefit your mental health and can prevent isolation and loneliness (which are significantly higher when people are not working). Isolation and loneliness is also known to negatively impact on our health outcomes. For people living with HIV, this often means that our ability to remain engaged in care and take our meds can become challenging.

The link between isolation and poorer health outcomes means that some kind of employment, education or volunteering is likely to make us happier and healthier. However, many of us have experienced years of unemployment and some of us are uncomfortable accessing the usual pathways back to work. Our employment and vocational support program, HIV Work Ready, is a different kind of back-to-work program that puts you back in the driver’s seat.

You’ll sit down with a positive peer (someone also living with HIV) who listens, takes the time to hear your story, and understands where you’re coming from as well as what your goals are. Not everyone wants to get back into working full-time. It might be a part-time or casual position that would be more suitable for you. Or it could be volunteering or even finding a course at TAFE or another local skills-building course. We will talk through various options that might work better for you. We’re keen to help you wherever you’re at, whatever your goals may be.

Once we know a bit about you, we’ll connect you to other programs, such as specialist employment agencies, volunteering organisations or training bodies. The outcome has been great so far, with 60% of people achieving their goals from when they first sat down with a peer.

‘Robert’ (not his real name) called HIV Work Ready a year ago. He’s 55 years old and has been living with HIV for over 30 years. He’s also been on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) for most of this time, and today experiences a few health issues. Robert called Positive Life mainly because he was feeling bored and wanted to see what HIV Work Ready could offer. He was keen to increase his social connections and find a way to make some new friends.

Robert said, “I felt totally comfortable talking with Positive Life. They understood what I needed, given most of them also live with HIV.  I felt safe to be myself, which has never happened to me before.” It wasn’t long before Robert scored work as a technical expert with a particularly well-known IT company!

HIV Work Ready is here to offer you support and commitment to helping you, or someone you may know, on the next steps towards feeling ‘readier’ for future possibilities.

If you’re interested in giving the HIV Work Ready Program a go, call Positive Life on (02) 8357 8386, 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email

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housing support for people living with HIV
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Treatments and Managing your HIV