Two years after Ford's factory shutdown, how are workers coping?

Henry Fuller and Tony Anderson

Standing outside the now bricked doors of the Geelong Ford factory, former workers Tony Anderson and Henry Fuller have bittersweet memories.

Mr. Fuller tells SBS News that going back to the factory is like visiting a cemetery.

"It's a little sad to see everything now covered," he says.

"It was fine while it lasted and I do not regret too many things, I learned many job skills here."

Both men are over 50 and forced to seek other forms of employment after Ford announced 1,200 layoffs in 2013.

600 manufacturing workers lost their jobs at their Broadmeadows and Geelong plants in 2016.

Former Ford employees Henry Fuller, left, and Tony Anderson outside the old Ford factory in Geelong.

SBS News

Fuller is one of more than 60 percent of the former factory workers who have found work since the collapse of the industry. Now he earns his living driving buses.

"It was quite difficult for me to move to another job, but once I moved in, things were fine," she says.

"I just had to learn all the processes that bus management companies have that are different from those of Ford, but some of the principles are the same."

The Geelong Skills and Jobs Center has been helping former Ford workers in recent years.

Advisor Bob Hope says that most have already settled on something else. Some have retired.

"We have a majority of former workers at work or a result that was suitable for them, it could be retirement or work or there is a minority that is now looking for work," he said.

The closure of the Holden plant in South Australia in October last year marked the end of automobile manufacturing in Australia, an industry that employed tens of thousands of Australians.

Geelong Skills and Jobs Center

Former Ford workers are receiving support from the Geelong Skills and Jobs Center.

SBS News

And while the majority of former Ford workers at Geelong have found their place, the transition for some has been a challenge.

At 53, Tony Anderson is struggling to get an apprenticeship.

"I would put myself in that category of struggle, trying to get an apprenticeship for adults because of my age, it's probably the hardest part, trying to get someone to employ you in your fifties," he says.

Probably the hardest part, trying to get someone to use you in their fifties.

– Tony Anderson, former Ford worker

Anderson says he is surviving by his dismissal and the financial support of his wife, who works full time.

"With my wife working, she can still pay the bills, but she does get a bill because at some point she must get a job.

"All the rhetoric that the federal government gives you about those over 50, employment, apprenticeships and all this retraining seen on television, I'm still waiting to see it."

While the loss of hundreds of jobs at Ford was a blow to Geelong, the city has revived its fortunes and is now one of the fastest growing parts in Australia. Its population is expected to reach at least 320,000 in 2036.

Deputy Mayor of the city of Greater Geelong, Peter Murrihy, says that one of the reasons behind the city's growing population is the cheapest housing.

"It's because of the affordability that people want to come to Geelong, they see the opportunity that Geelong offers for young families to establish here."

The Deputy Secretary of the Australian Trade Union of Workers of the Manufacturing Industry, Paul Difelice, says that the assistance provided to Geelong workers has definitely had positive results.

"It's a good job that was done and is still ongoing, there are still some automotive component companies that are still struggling to stay open or not."

Fuller expects his own experience in the loss of a job and the search for another to stimulate people facing similar challenges.

"I want you to know that you can move forward, change is not necessarily a bad thing, it's something different, use all the support networks that are available, get advice from other people, try to find out where the jobs you have might be suitable for be and keep going, go for it. "