Shirley Graves-Mortimer

“You are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Shirley’s background in nursing seems to be a perfect fit for an organisation that focuses on nurturing women. “The environment is different from a hospital, but you are still helping vulnerable people.”

Encouraged to volunteer by a friend, Shirley got involved with the organisation over 10 years ago. She still remembers when the modern ‘Dressing Room’ was called “The Boutique”. Since 2017 Shirly has been employed to assist the Melbourne National Programs Manager, drawing on her experience in health administration and many years as a volunteer.

“I just loved volunteering. Women coming in for the first time would be feeling flat and not confident. You spend over an hour with them, encouraging them, outfitting them top to toe in beautiful clothes, and see them out feeling really good about themselves. I loved seeing the difference.”
Shirley believes working in health taught her to stay empathic and objective. She remembers how at the beginning of her career a senior nurse told her, “remember you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Shirley feels it’s important not to patronise but empathise “We want to treat women with dignity, make them feel valued and important.”

Working for Fitted for Work gave Shirley some insight into how terrible things can happen to regular people through the circumstances outside of their control. “I also have more awareness of the vulnerability of older women. I’m more grateful than ever for having a part-time job at this stage of my life.”

Being involved with Fitted for Work has given Shirley a lot of bright memories over the years. A particular highlight was managing a storytelling project. When Fitted for Work needed someone to capture clients’ stories, Shirley’s people’s skills and knowledge of the organisation made her a perfect choice.
“I really believe in the art of storytelling and the importance of collecting stories. These women have incredible stories. It’s been very special talking with them.”


This profile was written by Natalia Tsygankova.