Getting back to work

    Getting back into the workforce is possibly one of the biggest challenges to resuming a normal life for women experiencing domestic violence.

    Those fleeing violence often have to leave behind not only their home and local support network but also their job – for fear the perpetrator who can no longer do it at home will carry on the violence at her place of work.  Often the refuge is far from her own area and keeping her job remains a practical impossibility. Couple this with physical and mental injury and it’s no wonder most women in refuges become estranged from the workplace for long periods.

    To help get their clients back into work Hornsby Ku ring gai Women’s Shelter is this month launching the back to work initiative, Change Your Future, an eight module program kicking off with a session called ‘Why Work? The Benefits of Working, followed by sessions on Boosting Self-confidence and Self-esteem.

    Other areas covered will include resume writing, the best ways to find a job, interview preparation, dressing and grooming for success and managing your finances.

    “The majority of women are not working when they come here,” said program co-ordinator Jenny Alexander. “In fact between 90 and 98% of homeless women in shelters are long-term unemployed –

    the two are interdependent.

    “Coupled with that when they get here they are traumatised and have low self esteem and many aren’t working.

    “Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelters is expanding its objectives to include conducting training programmes specifically directed towards assisting the women in crisis re-enter the workforce and gain full time employment.

    “The programme’s main aim is to overcome the hurdles faced by women in crisis that often create long term unemployment and resultant reliance on the Welfare system.”

    Other modules in the volunteer-run initiative include resume writing, efficient job searching, dressing for success and job interview strategies.

    The local business community has been asked to play its part by supporting the programme. “We’re  seeking suitable community members to be mentors when the women leave the shelter and enter the workforce. And we’d like the support of local businesses to provide work experience to the women which may result in employment in the local community.”

    To date several businesses have come forward to offer mentoring and assistance, including Ronali Mahendra who runs Nextransform HR in Hornsby, a recruiting company for staff working in the accounts sector. “I had a tough journey coming from Sri Lanka 17 years ago as a student and this country has given me the best of everything in life so now I want to give something back.

    “I will be talking to women at the refuge and finding out what skill sets they have, facilitating upskilling and helping find them jobs. Everyone is good at something and if for example, a woman has a great phone manner or accounts receivable skills, we can tailor or enhance these skills, to place them in a good job.”

    *If you’re a local business and would like to offer refuge clients job assistance through mentoring or job offers, please email Jenny Alexander: jenny@wtr.com.au

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