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Born of Need,

Growing Fast,

Working Hard,

Fighting for Change 

"It’s just amazing isn’t it!  A win/win for everybody really"

- Matthew, Employer (Regis)

WomenCAN Australia was set up in 2019 to help women get skills and jobs, often having been out of the paid workforce for years providing care to others. 

We do this while providing confidence, connections, and peer support through The Placement Circle, in which women walk side-by-side on their path to financial independence. 

The genesis of WomenCAN Australia is ingrained unfairness. The barriers of bias and discrimination against women compelled Mikaela Stafrace to set up the organisation after she realised her successful corporate law career had left her needing a fuller sense of purpose. 

So she quit her job and started helping other women get jobs.  

WomenCAN Australia is surging. Women, often facing difficult circumstances, get free training and guaranteed work. They ‘earn and learn’ at the same time. 

Employers get dedicated, reliable, skilled staff. Women needing trades work done get quality, affordable trades work done through our social enterprise. 

And the economy and communities get stronger. 

The organisation focusses on aged care, childcare, transport, and trades for the moment. But its close connection to communities means it picks up on what’s happening in the labour market early, and so is well-placed to help Australia’s women help fix Australia’s skills shortage. 

We have tax-deductible charitable status and are registered with the Australian Charities Not-for-profit Commission, the Australian Taxation Office and Social Traders. 

Our Mission

 

WomenCAN Australia's mission is to make the world a little better and fairer by providing women financial independence through free training and job placements. 

We walk alongside them, step-by-step, with our unique, evidence-based peer-support program, The Placement Circle. 

Everyone involved benefits; there can be no prosperous high streets without healthy backstreets. 

Disadvantaged women get quality work and financial freedom. 

Employers get dedicated, reliable, skilled staff. 

Women needing trades work done get quality, affordable trades work done through our social enterprise. 

The economy and communities get stronger.  

WCA's connection to communities means we see what’s happening early, and so are well-placed to help Australia’s women help fix Australia’s skills shortage. 

Sometimes massive, systemic change delivers justice. 

But most of the time, it’s grassroots, incremental change that makes the world just a little bit better and fairer. Case by case, woman by woman.  

Our Guiding Principles

 
MEETING ETIQUETTE

  • Connection and Engagement: In meetings, we encourage attendees to turn on their cameras to foster a sense of connection among all attendees.

  • Focused Meetings: We ensure meetings follow a documented agenda to stay on track and accomplish their objectives.

  • Meeting Minutes: After every meeting, minutes/notes will be issued, identifying action items and next steps.

  • Timekeeper Role: For internal meetings, a designated 'meeting effectiveness' person will keep track of time against each agenda item.

 
HEALTH AND WELLBEING

  • Personal Responsibility: We take responsibility for our physical health and wellbeing.

  • Mental and Physical Health: It is acceptable to take time away from work when unwell, either mentally or physically.

  • Open Communication: We actively discuss health and wellbeing and support each other during difficult times.

 

WORKING ENVIRONMENT

  • Transparent Working Hours: We communicate and understand working hours within our team.

  • Flexibility: Some team members choose non-core hours for tasks like responding to emails or calls. We respect this and note there is no obligation to respond outside working hours.

  • Working Location Flexibility: We acknowledge that not everyone needs to work in the office, and we respect individual circumstances and preferences, noting we attend the office a minimum of 2 days per week.

  • Attendance Priority: We encourage everyone to attend the Wednesday team lunch and then the all-staff meeting.

  • Consideration of Others: We share an open workspace with each other and with other organisations. We understand the need to show respect, thoughtfulness and courtesy by keeping our voices down, not needlessly distracting others and seeking to have conversations in one of the designated places.

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TEAM BEHAVIOUR

  • Respectful and Inclusive: We value and respect each team member's opinions and ensure inclusivity in all discussions.

  • Trust and Commitment: Trust is fundamental, and we commit to being purposeful in our actions, avoiding overcommitment.

  • Celebrating Success: We celebrate wins and approach challenges with respectful conversations.

  • Safe Conversations: We create a safe space for open, authentic, courageous and respectful conversations.

  • After-Hours Communication: We do not expect responses to texts or emails after hours or on weekends and urgent matters are directed to the incident response team.

  • Integrity: We show integrity in everything we do.

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Why We Do

What We Do

Mikaela Stafrace, CEO

It’s a chilling tale, but one that demonstrates how collaboration between government, private enterprise, and not-for-profit organisations saves and rebuilds lives. 

 

Afghan judges Zuhra Ibrahim and Mahtab Fazl were targets from the moment the Taliban almost effortlessly regained power in 2021 after the west, including Australia, pulled out without a plan for the day after. 

  

The Afghanistan regime persecutes women. It particularly disliked the nation’s almost 300 female judges, all of whom wished to continue their work after the Taliban’s retaking of Kabul.  

  

Zuhra and Mahtab were already in danger, but when the rulers threw open the prison gates, they knew they and their families were in mortal peril. Some of their colleagues were murdered.  

  

The released men were set on vengeance against the female judges who had sentenced some of them.  

  

So began an international rescue effort led by the Washington-based International Association of Women Judges. Dozens remain in hiding in Kabul, but most have been evacuated – 17 of them to Australia. 

 

They need the autonomy that comes from skills and employment. They are obviously highly skilled, but their expertise is in a legal system we do not use in Australia. 

 

Some of the women are going to learn to drive, with our financial and practical support along their route to financial independence here. WomenCAN Australia is organising the instruction and then will help with employment.  

  

This story of rescue and transition might be extreme, but there are so many seeking escape from the tyranny of disadvantage imposed by circumstances beyond any individual’s control. 

 

Equity and equality are related to fairness, but there’s an important difference. Equity recognises people have different needs, abilities, and circumstances. Equality is about treating everybody the same way regardless of their circumstances, abilities, or needs. 

 

Imagine two people of very different heights needing to see over a barrier. Equity would be giving the shorter person a higher platform upon which to stand. Equality would be giving them platforms of the same height. 

 

WomenCAN Australia teams up with training institutions and employers to give free training and guaranteed jobs to women and girls. 

  

Community is one of the most powerful words in our language. There can be no prosperous high streets without healthy backstreets. Equity – and equality – can be seen as forms of enlightened self-interest. 

  

Women continue to struggle against structural discrimination. One persistent barrier is the lingering gap between male and female pay. Others are access to training, employment, and affordable childcare and accommodation. 

  

In a growing number of places – Melbourne, Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura, Mornington and more – and with the help of volunteers who get so much out of their participation, we are helping women gain skills.  

  

And then we get them a job. It changes lives, buttresses communities, and boosts the economy.  

  

It also saves scarce taxpayers’ funds; the cost of doing this is significantly less than Centrelink payments. The benefit is significantly more than that provided by Centrelink, which is not to downplay the importance of that arm of federal government.  

  

What we are doing is a classic example of win-win-win. 


The organisation focusses on aged care, childcare, transport, and trades for the moment.

 

But its close connection to communities means it picks up on what’s happening in the 

labour market early, and so is well-placed to help Australia’s women help fix Australia’s skills shortage. We plan to extend our services across the nation.

 

Sometimes massive, systemic change delivers justice.

 

But most of the time, it’s grassroots, incremental change that makes the world just a little bit better and fairer. Case by case, woman by woman.  

Mikaela Stafrace, a former corporate lawyer, is founder and CEO of WomenCAN Australia.  

 

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Skills and employment are a path to independence, to a chance at lasting fairness. Some people face greater barriers than others to the jobs market. 

 

So much public debate seems dominated by conflict, but no matter your politics most if not all people share a belief in decency and opportunity. The thing that most matters is what we might actually do to make the things a little better and fairer. 

 

Here’s a story about fairness and equity. 

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