McAuley Works up and running again

McAuley Works, the program to help disadvantaged women gain sustainable employment is up and running again after being granted new funding through the Victorian State Government. Already, 15 women have commenced with the program, which is being led by coordinator Justine Connelly.

McAuley Community Services for Women ran McAuley Works from 2011 until mid 2015. Of the 201 women who accessed the program in that period, 134 were placed in employment and 88 went onto Vocational Training and Education programs.

McAuley Works has restarted thanks to a contract through the Jobs Victorian Employment Network (JVEN), with the single aim of helping women secure paid employment.

Participants have been referred to the program by external services and McAuley Community Services for Women’s own internal services including McAuley House and McAuley Care.

McAuley Works focuses on the needs of the women and tailor their program to fit the circumstances of each woman. 87% of the 15 women referred to the program so far have been living with family violence, some for many years.

“We have women in the program who have lived with family violence for many years, others are confronting it for the first time. This means we have women with unique circumstances around finances, accommodation and capacity to work. It also means most of the women are very vulnerable,” Justine said.

McAuley works responds to a referral within 24 hours, when a case worker is assigned to assess a woman’s personal situation, job opportunities and to assist her in setting actionable goals. Training and mentoring is then provided to assist her through the process of looking for work – whether that is resume writing, interview training or other relevant skills that can be used by the candidate long after her time with the service.

McAuley Works remains by the candidate’s side throughout the process, checking in and adjusting the approach in order to ensure the woman achieves her employment goals.

McAuley Works participants are a unique group and face many challenges. Some are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and most have a physical or mental health issue they are managing.

“We have to be careful to match the woman’s hopes with what is realistic. We look at the woman’s education, her capacity in terms of time and health and the industry requirements and we try to match that. Sometimes a successful outcome is supporting the woman when she realizes that moving into the paid workforce is not the best decision at this time,” Justine said.

McAuley Works also reviews the process if a woman fails to obtain an interview following an application. Together they look at what can be done differently to enhance her job opportunities.

Justine and McAuley Works caseworkers are also promoting the services to other agencies for women who are homeless, or who are seeking refuge because of family violence.

The McAuley Works team is also developing a strong network of corporate and business connections committed to supporting women in the workplace.To date, Australian Super and Price WaterhouseCoopers have partnered with McAuley to support women who have experienced family violence to find appropriate sustainable employment.