'Their success is our success': how our McAuley Works program makes a difference

Justine Connolly, the Program Coordinator for McAuley Works, is an early bird beginning each day at the office before everyone else arrives.

“I like when it is quiet and the phones haven’t started ringing.’

Justine’s days are busy. She works out of McAuley House but as an outreach program, her team travel all over Victoria sourcing and placing women in employment.

After her little moment of quiet, she starts each day with coffee with her team to discuss any concerns, and flag any risks. ‘The safety and wellbeing of the team is our priority. We all see first hand the effects of violence on women and children. It can be a real challenge to maintain my own mental health and self care as well as that of my team. Ensuring the team is supported and able to meet the demands of this challenging job each day is a vital part of my role.’

Justine (pictured below) is constantly inspired by each of the women who achieve employment as she knows it will change the future for them and her children. “McAuley Works supports women to regain power and control over the lives and their finances through employment. Their success is our success.”

But she is frustrated by the need for the services provided by McAuley.

“I wish our family violence and homelessness services were not required. I would like our community to acknowledge that violence is not ok – at any time in any context. Despite our best efforts, on average, one woman a week is still being killed in Australia. This makes me sad and angry and frustrated.

“But I also feel proud that our service is having a positive impact on the lives of each woman and her children one woman at a time.”

Justine tells a story which she feels exemplifies the work of McAuley Works.

“I met one of our clients in a food court with her young children crying, distressed, shaking with fear. She was so afraid that her ex had found her new address and they would have to run again. This woman and her children had endured significant family violence.

“We supported her to engage with a specialist family violence case manager, Victorian Police, access funds and organised installation of CCTV cameras and monitoring equipment so she could remain safe at home. Best of all, we supported her into ongoing sustained employment in an industry she is passionate about. Despite the challenges her ex presents, this young woman continues to work in a job she loves and remain safe at home with her children. Her future is not reliant on Centrelink and welfare payments – she is earning a decent income and able to provide for herself and her children.

“This is the best outcome – sustained employment and financial security.”

When Justine isn’t leading McAuley Works she loves hanging out with her three ‘awesome’ kids, her dog Rex, and sitting on the deck at home looking at her garden. Just rewards for her hard work.

Read more about how getting a new job made a difference to a young mum.

Find out how to make a referral to McAuley Works