Thousands of West Australians laid off during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic have found their way back into work, with one ex-flight attendant saying a move to Carnarvon was the ticket to landing on her feet.
According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, WA’s unemployment rate is edging back to pre-pandemic levels, with the jobless figure falling to 6.4 per cent in November.
The rate reached its most critical point in June last year, when 8.7 per cent of all West Australians were unemployed.
On March 30, Jennifer Cullen was let go from her role as a Qantas flight attendant, along with 20,000 of her peers.
“It was heartbreaking, of course. I thought I was going to be a flight attendant until I retired, and for many flight attendants, what you do is so much more than a job — it’s part of your identity,” she said.
Shortly after she got the boot, a partnership between Qantas and Woolworths led to her being offered a job at a BWS south of Perth.
Ms Cullen had a first aid certificate, customer service skills, conflict resolution training, and a responsible service of alcohol certificate, so naturally she exceeded expectations.
It wasn’t long before she was offered the role of BWS Carnarvon chief executive.
“My husband, who is retired, and I have lived in many places, from Kosciuszko in NSW where we worked for the national park for 20 years, in Mutitjulu Community-Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, and Maningrida in Arnhem land, so we were up for the adventure,” she said.
At the end of October, the pair moved to Carnarvon and they haven’t looked back since.
“When you’re 35,000 feet up in the air, you have to know the team — if someone has an off day, everyone needs to be aware of that,” she said.
“It’s the same in a store — we’re all part of a team, and we have each other’s backs.”
Ms Cullen said the couple had found their way into the hearts of Carnarvon locals very quickly.
“We have already made some lifelong friends,” she said.
Ms Cullen said the town was a fascinating and friendly place, which was making a fine home for herself and her husband.
“I haven’t looked back,” she said.