RELEASED: November 25, 2022
Standing Strong, the pilot Gold Coast employment program supporting women who have exited domestic violence, is marking a year of achievements on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25).
Not-for-profit organisation Social Futures has supported more than 60 Gold Coast women through the program over the past year, many from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
The Standing Strong program helps women impacted by domestic family violence reclaim their economic independence by finding a stable, ongoing job and is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women. It was launched just over a year ago.
General Manager Melissa Gordon spoke of a woman, who had a very successful career overseas, but after moving to Australia found herself in an abusive relationship for more than a decade. She was out of the workforce for many years.
“We organised training in a new field, and this year she secured a new job and can support herself and her children,” Ms Gordon said.
“She is a different woman, growing in confidence and optimistic about her future and her family’s futures.
“Remember, it takes time for women to recover after leaving a controlling or violent relationship. Our priority is to empower them, through either employment, education or volunteering.”
Ms Gordon spoke of another woman, who after being unemployed long term is rapidly moving towards a managerial position.
“A program worker was able to help this woman write her resume, prepare for job interviews and even shop for clothes for the interview,” she said.
“She secured a job this year and is now moving into management and looking at further study – again this has
Ms Gordon said yet another success story was a woman, also from a CALD background, who is volunteering and looking to study.
“She is not yet strong enough to return to paid work but is growing in confidence and next year will begin a university course as she aspires to work for an organisation that supports people who share her cultural background.”
Ms Gordon said the greatest challenge for women exiting domestic violence was securing permanent accommodation.
“This is the bane of my life. Women find the courage to exit unhealthy relationships and then can’t find a home to rent and end up living in short-term accommodation.
“Putting your life back together after leaving a toxic relationship is challenging, and not being able to secure a new home makes everything more difficult.”
Ms Gordon said secure, affordable and immediate housing was critical for women rebuilding their lives.
Standing Strong has been developed around the needs of women who have experienced domestic family violence and could be a first in Australia. (Other domestic violence services have employment supports but this is a specialised employment program for women.)
The goal of Standing Strong is to support women gain work skills, grow in confidence, independence, safety and wellbeing, and find ongoing employment. The Standing Strong program provides customised support, empowerment plus trauma-informed case management. Workers have specialised skills in the area, and can help women access education, training and work opportunities.