Advocacy, Employment, Health

Domestic violence employment program supports 165 women

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on11 Mar, 2024


Standing Strong, based on the Gold Coast, is an Australian-first employment program for women impacted by family violence. It celebrates supporting 165 women and their achievements – beginning careers (in areas such as real estate, accountancy, and small business ownership) and enrolling to study at university and TAFE.

Standing Strong, based in south-east Queensland, is an Australian-first employment program for women impacted by family violence. The program has reached another milestone – Standing Strong has supported 165 women and recognises their achievements – beginning careers in areas such as real estate, accountancy, and small business ownership, and enrolling to study at university and TAFE.

Supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women, the Standing Strong program was designed by not-for-profit organisation Social Futures.

Social Futures Manager of Children, Youth and Families, Melissa Gordon said Standing Strong was launched on the Gold Coast in 2021, and in the past three years the Standing Strong team had seen women secure new and rewarding jobs, return to study, find accommodation and childcare, and make new friends.

“Standing Strong supports women in so many ways, including help with job applications, sourcing new clothes for interviews, even applying for a driving licence, and introductions to other support agencies and professionals,” Ms Gordon said.

“The Gold Coast’s rate of domestic and family violence is above the national average. That’s why this unique program was delivered first on the Gold Coast.”

Ms Gordon said on International Women’s Day, she encouraged everyone to think about the right of women to gain meaningful employment and financial independence.

“When women are financially independent, they are empowered to make decisions about their own lives and the relationships they want to be in. They can provide for their children, and they don’t have to rely on family or a partner to pay for life essentials – they are no longer beholden to a partner,” Ms Gordon said.

“We have also seen the participants of Standing Strong grow in confidence and self-worth.”

Ms Gordon said often women leaving family violence situations were experiencing low self-esteem and some opted to do volunteer work before applying for paid work.

“Our Standing Strong workers listen to what the participant wants and works at their pace. We have many women from diverse backgrounds, including First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.”

Sarah’s story

(This is based on a real story, but names and details have been changed to protect the participant’s identity.)

Sarah left all her family and friends behind and moved interstate to escape a violent ex-partner. She arrived on the Gold Coast with her two daughters a couple of years ago.

It was a very difficult time as she missed her friends and family terribly and had no support.

Sarah was referred to the Standing Strong program by a charity supporting Sarah and her girls.

Sarah explained that she wanted to help her get back into the workforce. She had very little money, two daughters to care for, and rent to pay.

Sarah was also doubting herself and her ability to succeed in a workplace.

But Sarah loved houses and meeting new people, and when her Standing Strong worker asked her what job she’d like to do, real estate was the first thing that came to mind.

Standing Strong helped her to qualify for a real estate license – Sarah’s worker assisted her to enrol in the training, and also covered the cost of getting her real estate agent’s license.

Now Sarah is going for job interviews with real estate agencies.

Her case worker helped her put together a great CV, and also linked her to a charity that gives new clothes (donated by fashion brands) to people in need.

Sarah’s self-esteem has been restored. She is positive she will soon land a job and have the money to care for her girls.

“Social Futures helped me by giving me the courage to move forward with confidence,” Sarah said.

“I knew they were there to support me to move forward. They gave great advice and encouraged me to put a plan in place for the future. And they assisted by paying for me to finish my real estate licence. I could never have done this on my own.”

“Now I can go out and get work in the real estate industry. I feel like they have ‘fast-forwarded my life’. Without them, I’d be making slower progress.”

Sarah again believes in herself and the future.

PHOTO: Istock