Women’s employment program running again

McAuley Community Services for Women has been successful in its bid for a contract to reactivate McAuley Works, an employment program designed to assist women impacted by family violence, homelessness, and or mental illness, find jobs.

The contract, awarded through the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is part of the Jobs Victoria Employment Network program and will see McAuley partner with AustralianSuper and its network of financial services organisations to place women into jobs.

CEO Jocelyn Bignold said the contract will mean that 100 women will be placed into continual employment.

“Unemployment is a risk factor for women in relation to family violence and homelessness, and McAuley Works attempts to mitigate this,” she said.

“Evidence shows that women who are employed are less likely to be in relationships with violent partners, and women who are in relationships with violent partners are more able to leave if they are financially independent.”

In 2012 McAuley commissioned a review into family violence, employment and the workplace. ‘Violence Against Women- A Workplace and Employment Issue’ (Kleimaker 2012) which found that employment can play an important role in the recovery of women who have suffered family violence, and may also contribute to a sense of stability and purpose at a time of instability.

McAuley Community Services for Women first established McAuley Works in 2010. In 2013 McAuley was listed as a finalist in the National Homelessness Services AchievementAwards for ‘Excellence in supporting pathways to employment or education’ by the Hon. Mark Butler, MP, the then Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Last year McAuley had to close the service due to a lack of funding.

However, the learnings will be put to good use with a new emphasis being placed on employer engagement from the outset. Participants will be offered intensive, specialised support to help find and maintain work, resume development, job specific skills training, job matching and placement into employment, referral to literacy, numeracy and vocational skills training if needed.

This new contract will focus on job seeking women across Victoria, and in particular in towns that are among the most disadvantaged in the state. These include metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, Shepparton, Bendigo and Ballarat.

“We are confident that McAuley Works will enable women who enter a crisis service to be able to access viable housing and employment. One of the barriers to obtaining affordable housing is the lack of income compounded by the low availability of social and public housing,” said Ms Bignold.

“Employment allows greater flexibility for women and their children to access private rentals at affordable rents through the National Rent Assistance Scheme. It also ensures women have choice about where they live and feel safe.”