Closing the participation gap by combining boxing, CBT and OT

In this session, James Weait, Director of Populi Solutions, will espouse the benefits of exercise for both mental health and employment — drawing on the Gloves boxing-for-jobs program, which recently completed a successful pilot with joblife in Townsville.

We know that exercise releases endorphins and, whilst this is happening, it’s a great opportunity to capture participant attention and help with their mindset for work.

The Gloves Program combines an hour of boxing with an hour of CBT/Mindfulness over six sessions. During the recent DES pilot, 25% of participants found work, including Dane who says, ‘Gloves has changed my life’.


James Weait Founder & Director, Populi Solutions, Australia

James Weait is the founder and Director of Populi Solutions. Populi is a latin word meaning ‘of the people’ and speaks to the purpose and goal of the company. Populi supports companies across Australia (and the UK) with consulting, coaching and bespoke training solutions.

James formed Populi in February 2019. His work at the company has involved project management, performance uplift and executive coaching. He has also run client engagement programmes for employment service providers and other purpose-led organisations, such as Parkhouse Bell, PLP Solutions, Samsung C&T Corporation, Transport for NSW and White Ribbon.

Following a career in sales, James discovered the welfare sector in 2004 while employed at Ingeus UK in West London as an Employment Advisor. Later, he worked in management and the executive leadership at Ingeus. During this time, he oversaw the performance turnaround of the Pathways to Work disability contract and the highest contract area performance across all providers for two consecutive years on the UK’s Work Programme.

In 2015 James travelled to Australia to help set up Mission Providence (as GM National Operations). After two and a half years, James became the Managing Director for Pure Insights, helping the service to diversify into EAP and to win new contracts in the UK with Jobcentre Plus.

In May 2020, James published the Amazon No.1 best-selling book, Resumes That Work. In his spare time, James co-hosts a podcast and volunteers as a rural firefighter with his local brigade.

Phoebe Hutchison Counsellor, author, and Founder of PLP Solutions

Phoebe Hutchison is a counsellor, author, and founder of PLP Solutions. The PLP (Passionate Life Program) was created in 2013 as a unique 12 step individual counselling model for rapid change in Addiction and Mental Health clients.

Phoebe released her first book in 2007, a relationship guide entitled Honeymooners Forever, Twelve Step Marriage Survival Guide. The sudden loss of a friend motivated Phoebe to write her second published book, Are You Listening? Life is Talking to You, to help clients with depression and often suicidal thinking.

As Phoebe worked more with clients who were wrestling with these complex challenges, she began creating ‘PLP’ as way to build on standard counselling with more comprehensive assessment and education tools. Phoebe wanted a system that could be replicated, and that would also cause fast, and lasting, change to clients.

PLP Solutions counselling team have been supporting jobactive (and DES) clients in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia in face to face or telehealth/phone counselling for over two years, following a hugely successful pilot program in 2019.

PLP Solutions recruit highly empathetic, and trauma trained counsellors, and train them in the PLP program, and continue to supervise with ACA approved supervision. Upstreaming and case management are also part of our team’s commitment to service.

Phoebe’s ultimate goal is to reduce world-wide-depression and her PLP Solutions team of specialist counsellors are making a daily difference to many clients in desperate need of help.

Janine Botfield Director, Younity Community Services

Janine Botfield is the Director of Younity Community Services, a not-for-profit organisation located in Moreton Bay, Qld. Janine has worked in community services sector for over 20 years, in both government and third sector organisations, and is passionate about joining up people and creating vibrant spaces for the design and delivery of asset-based community initiatives.

Having taken Younity through significant strategic and operational development over the last two years, Janine is now looking for opportunities focusing on sustainability for the organisation and the vital work it does within its communities. Janine is a big fan of disruptive innovation and is not scared of shaking up the standard vision of community services to embrace new markets and technologies to grow service scope.

Janine’s vision for the community services sector is one working in non-traditional partnerships with business and tech innovators to increase their enterprise capacity and reduce reliance on grant-based income. She believes this is the key to providing genuinely inclusive, tailored and sustainable change for disadvantaged communities.