IN LIMBO: Job seekers wait over five months in Maranoa
SENDING out job application after application and failing to receive a response became a never-ending cycle for Allora mother Leah Kelly.
Mrs Kelly searched for a position for over a year, sending out about 30-40 applications in her desperate search for kitchen hand and hospitality jobs.
She had 20 years of experience working in pubs, but it still did not seem to be enough.
Having been out of work for 15 years to look after her children, she did not have current references and let her Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate lapse, which required money to renew that the family did not have whilst living on her husband's single income.
"I'm very qualified for a kitchen hand but it's been a long time and I think that was the only factor,” she said.
"A lot of people would prefer juniors for that sort of job.”
She did not receive a single response to any of the applications she sent.
"It knocks the self esteem around a bit especially when you don't hear back from people,” she said.
"You're left wondering what's wrong, why didn't I qualify? It's not nice.”
For a few years she ran her own bead business in Warwick, but pressure from the Global Financial Crisis forced the doors shut in 2011.
Finding a permanent position became so hard she decided to change tracks entirely and study instead.
"Without any qualifications for that (beading) either, I thought I'd do the bachelor of creative arts to put a bit of education behind what I do and build on that,” she said.
The average wait time for job seekers in the Darling Downs-Maranoa region is 22 weeks, that equates to just over five months.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Queensland is the worst state for job search lag times as the wait stretches to six months.
In NSW, it takes a mere 13 weeks and Victoria 12 weeks.
For the long-term unemployed, the wait in Queensland for a job could be as high as 126 weeks, or almost 2.5 years, compared with the national median of 106 weeks.
Mrs Kelly said she would like to see people land jobs more quickly in the region.
"Being able to find a job more quickly, there's less strain on mental health and pressures on the family itself because you feel you're not contributing,” she said.
"It's not a reasonable thing that we struggle so hard, especially being an older person.”
Finding the money to retrain was also a challenge, as her husband's income put the family just above the threshold for government assistance.
But they managed to gather together the funds.
"Once I made the decision and started the pathway program and knowing it wasn't completely unachievable, it gave me a bit more focus and determination to get there in the end,” she said.
Mrs Kelly has also just landed a casual position at the new coffee shop at Allora RSL, which she obtained through a family connection.
She is looking forward to doing a few hours a week with this weekend being her first shift.
But her sights are set on obtaining a job in the art sector when her course is complete.
"Possibly even run my own gallery by the time I'm finished,” she said.