Hope on horizon for long-term jobless in historic CQ town
MORRIS Cox and his family of five have called Mount Morgan their home for 16 years.
While they love the town deeply, unemployment has seriously disrupted his life.
"When you drop down to a one-income family it becomes very stressful,” Morris, 62, said.
"It puts a great deal of strain on any relationship you have.”
Despite a previously glowing history of employment, Morris has been unemployed for 18 months.
Morris was lured to Mount Morgan by the relatively affordable property prices and the town's good facilities.
Skilled in labour, Morris worked for a window company before moving on to have his own insulation company, along with a variety of other carpentry and handyman jobs.
As he started to become older, however, work became harder to find, until one day the company he was employed at told him there was no more work coming.
For eight months Morris cared for his family, including a teenage son and an elderly uncle, but when attempting to re-enter the job market he hit a brick wall.
"It's very difficult at my age to find any employment so I was trying for basic labouring jobs,” he said.
"You can only send out so many applications before you eliminate too many jobs.”
Morris thinks that people from Mount Morgan are unfairly looked upon by others in the region.
"There is a stigma attached to Mount Morgan,” he said.
"When the mine closed many years ago, the population plummeted, and people outside saw the ones who remained as unemployable.”
It's something that he believes has stuck despite the mine closing decades ago.
"There's always a group who will find another town to look down upon,” he continued.
"It's like the opposite of knocking down tall poppies.”
Morris felt this stigma is unfair and undeserved for the town he had chosen to call home.
"You can't talk down a town based on only what people are aware of,” he said.
"There's a lot of service organisations that put a lot of time and a lot of effort into this place.”
He strongly argued that people in Mount Morgan weren't lazy or unemployable, that if there was the jobs available people would jump at the chance.
"When news of any job opening spreads through word of mouth, there'll be a swarm of people applying for that position very quickly,” Morris said.
"Everybody I know who's unemployed is in that state because there's no work in their field on offer.”
Morris's plan is to keep looking for work wherever he may be able to find it, but for the future of Mount Morgan's job market he is hopeful and confident.
Carbine Resource's plans to re-open the Mt Morgan gold mine have given residents of the town optimism.
"The mine would be an asset for the town, it would create its own momentum and give the town a little bit more life,” Morris said.
"By rights what it should do is give employment to the ones who need it more, the younger ones.”