Helping the COVID-19 unemployed get back to work: Meet #ProjectDisplaced

Anthony Cohen
Anthony Cohen

As millions of Australians face sudden unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis, one resourceful former Qantas employee has taken direct action by launching Project Displaced, an innovative new online community and job board for employees in the airline, arts, tourism and hospitality industries.

Sydney-based Anthony Cohen worked for Qantas for more than 16 years, his partner is an orchestral musician, and both have had their work contracts put on hold or cancelled. The COVID-19 crisis hit them and their extended network very personally, and this inspired Anthony to take direct action.

“We set up Project Displaced to help our community through this terrible and very sudden crisis,” explains Anthony. “After both my partner and I lost our jobs, I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing, so I came up with the idea of Project Displaced.”

What exactly is Project Displaced?

Project Displaced is an online jobs community which allows employers to post any vacant roles for free. Employees impacted by displacement can also register their details for free, upload their CVs and apply for jobs.

Anthony put a call out on LinkedIn for employers who had jobs. He was quickly approached by a number of employers looking for staff in the insurance sector, manufacturing, vocational education, and IT sectors. One employer even created a “hotline” email for Anthony to share with those impacted.

Anthony then started sharing these with impacted workers via private Facebook groups, creating a registration page on his personal website. But he quickly realised he needed something which allowed scale, to help the most people. So he built the website using a template job board product, and started to promote the project via Facebook groups.

“We’re targeting people who have been stood down or have been displaced from their ongoing permanent roles as COVID-19 continues to impact the job market,” said Anthony. “We want to match any available jobs to the people with the right skills, and with urgency.”

What is Project Displaced looking to achieve?

Project Displaced aims to unite those employees and recognise the enormity of the impact that COVID-19 has had on industries, lives, and families. The website has just launched, but so far traction is strong: Within hours of launching the registration page on his personal website, nearly 2,000 impacted workers visited the page and more than 250 registrations were received in the first hour. Within a few days, traffic to the Project Displaced website was up 45,000%.

Project Displaced is also recording the breadth and depth of the impact of this crisis across the airline, arts, tourism and hospitality industries so that there may be a clearer picture of that impact.

“At a later point, we would like to use the experiences of this community to lobby for greater assistance – and to get people back to work quicker when jobs and life returns,” said Anthony.

“Right now what we need are good news stories. We saw this project as being a small way that we could help people in our industries feel less helpless, and more helped. Everyone is hurting and if we can help bring a community together – or even better, find some people a means to support themselves and their families – then at least we are contributing positively in some small way during these dark times for many.”

Job seekers and potential employers are encouraged to register at the Project Displaced website; and join the community on Facebook.