By Merredith Murphy

The year began with another group of mature age women participating in the Money for Jam program with PerCapita, to set up their own micro-enterprise initiatives. As the pilot ends this year, we are looking forward to following the progress as the women continue to build and grow their exciting micro-enterprise initiatives. Some of these include personal concierge services, cottage crafts and produce, assisted outings for the elderly, personalised ribbons and floristry.

We trialled a new model of WomanKind delivering bite-size sessions called The Essential Series. This allowed us to reach a far greater number of women who were able to attend for shorter sessions, over fewer weeks while accessing the key principles of wellbeing, job readiness, confidence building and with access to a mentor. We also delivered an outreach version of WomanKind with our partner organisation, Olympic Adult Education Centre in Heidelberg to allow women from that area to access the program locally.

Our partnerships also continued with many corporate supporters through Career and Industry Days at ShineWing Australia, Foy’s Arcade, Macquarie, Level Crossing Removal Authority, IBM and LinkedIn. VicRoads provided work experience placements, and we saw growth in the number of women attending regular workshops with SMAART Recruitment. We were pleased to continue to support women who participated in the Pathways program last year, as they transitioned into employment this year.

Another 24 mentors were trained, increasing mentor numbers to well over 100. This includes those actively mentoring, those waiting in our match ready pool and those in Lead Mentor roles which is a new initiative to better support mentors. In conjunction with the growth of other services, we have introduced virtual mentoring to support mentees in locations outside of Melbourne.

We continue to work in the prison system, providing workshops and information about our services so that women can access Fitted for Work when they are seeking employment support after release. We are particularly appreciative of the financial backing of Clayton Utz who fund this program and provide volunteers to attend our EXPO days alongside SMAART recruitment who also attend. We have also received funding to support transgender clients and look forward to the new year where will develop new WomanKind content to meet the needs of these clients as they seek employment.

It’s been another massive year, and thanks must go to the incredible individuals from so many fantastic organisations that continue to support us as we strive to support the amazing clients who access our service.