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Inspiration and inclusion require 365 days of the year


International Women’s Day is upon us – 8 March, 2024. As the world makes its 24-hour rotation around the sun on Friday, the focus will be on opportunities for women.


That’s what we do 24/7 for all 365 rotations every year – support and remove employment barriers for women by collaborating with training organisations, employers, governments, and communities to provide free, nationally certified training and a safe, fairly paid job.

 

The secret to our success is our unique, research-based peer support program, The Placement Circle, where we and the women travel side-by-side along their path to financial independence.



The theme of this year’s IWD is #InspireInclusion. That, too, is what we do. We inspire women to shape their future. They then inspire others to do the same. Through The Placement Circle, the women share ideas and experiences.

 

This creates friendships and a forum. We are thrilled to see these women then taking the notion of peer support into their workplaces, replicating, and extending the peer-support ethos at the centre of WomenCAN Australia.

 

We focus on women who might have been experiencing adversity and disadvantage and remove barriers that otherwise make it nigh-on impossible to navigate the system.

 

The transformational effect of our programs is also inspiring. We’ve had joyful messages from women – we remain in contact with many of them – who have bought a car or a home and they say,

 

"we couldn’t have done this without WomenCAN’’.


These women inspire as do the employers and training organisations, the policymakers and lawmakers, the volunteers and donors and philanthropic organisations that support us supporting women into work.

 

We are working hard to extend what we do and are seeking funding from the Federal Government for a national trial of our model.

 

We believe we have a compelling, evidence-based argument.

 

What we do also involves the notion of enlightened self-interest, for there can be no prosperous high streets without healthy backstreets.


Evidence backs us. The retention rate of women from our aged care program is 80%. The industry average is below 50%. More than half the aged care workforce quit last year. That is widely recognised as unsustainable, and potentially catastrophic in light of existing chronic labour shortages and the demographics-driven increase in demand.

 

It costs the federal government up to $60,000 a year per woman on Jobseeker Payment (and associated transfers) - $25,000 saved, employment services $16,000 saved, extra income tax revenue of about $19,000 on average aged care (and childcare) salary.

 

WomenCAN Australia's one-off cost per woman is $16,000, and we actually match the staff and the employers, greatly reducing the churn upon which private employment services firms base their fee-based profits.

 

This means that for every 1000 women who complete our program, there is an annual federal fiscal dividend of up to $60 million.


We are growing; the annual budgetary benefit of 4000 women could be close to a quarter of a billion dollars.We have also supported women who have faced difficult circumstances, such as domestic violence, homelessness, or mental health issues.


Our impact is not only measured by the number of women we train and employ, but also by the ripple effect we create in their lives and beyond. By empowering women, we also empower their families, their communities, and the economy. Research shows that when women work, they invest more in their children’s education and health, they contribute more to their local businesses and services, and they boost national productivity and economic growth.



Our impact is also evident in the stories of the women we work with, who share their journeys of transformation and hope. Women like Kylie, who became a heavy vehicle driver with Dysons after completing our Driving to Employment program.

 

Women like Judy, Wendy, and Nicole, who trained as an aged care worker, buttressed by The Placement Circle.


Women like Lisa, a tradeswoman who works as a tradesperson for our facilities maintenance, cleaning, gardening, and construction social enterprise, WomenCAN Build.


International Women’s Day is welcome – male dominance and inequality of opportunity are festering problems. The solution requires a full-time, unstinting effort.







Mikaela Stafrace is

Founder and CEO of

WomenCAN Australia

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