By Arj Ganesan, The Mount Gambier Advertiser
21 July 2023
Inviting a male stranger into your home can be a terrifying ordeal, particularly for survivors of domestic or sexual assault. See the plans to establish a rural female trades network.
After surviving a near killer stroke and relearning how to walk, a female construction worker has moved to Mount Gambier in the hopes of establishing a network of tradeswomen to help women feel safe.
Lisa Anderson, 45, has been working with WomenCAN since her near-death experience and was selected to spearhead the new team.
WomenCAN has an existing network established in Melbourne, which Ms Anderson hopes to replicate in Mount Gambier and Warrnambool.
Many abuse survivors do not feel safe in their own home and “having a bloke” come to do plumbing or maintenance work is the last thing they feel comfortable doing, Ms Anderson said.
“I didn’t realise that there was so many women out there hiding, scared and broken,” she said.
“I was actually shocked at how many women there are.”
In her time with WomenCAN, Ms Anderson said there had been countless clients living in fear “because they’re fleeing or hiding from a partner that’s still looking for them”. Ms Anderson said the network also provided a safe work space for female tradies who were often on the receiving end of severe workplace harassment.
“You do get blokes out there who don’t believe women should be on construction sites,” Ms Anderson said. “I’ve actually been pushed over in a portaloo at one site because I had a guy who refused to take orders from me.”
Despite the abuse that’s still prevalent, Ms Anderson said things had gotten better, with more men willing to call out dodgy worksite behaviour. “That never used to happen back in the day,” she said.
After working in construction since her early 20s, Ms Anderson was headhunted by WomenCAN before her near-fatal stroke – with the company standing by her in its wake. “I did full-time recovery for going on a year-and-a-half to get myself walking again,” she said. “It’s been a long journey – I still do rehab now, I’m still not 100 per cent.”
Ms Anderson, who grew up in the country, said she was keen to move back to the regions after her near-death experience. She was also keen to move in with her partner April Hague who was identified as one of the inspirational women of the Limestone Coast.
WomenCAN was established by Mikaela Stafrace in 2019 to help women upskill and re-enter the workforce. Women re-entering the workforce face several barriers including gender bias, bureaucracy, logistical and geographic, Ms Starface said.
“The need for financial independence and security is never greater than when a woman is needing to re-establish her life,” she said.
“We’re starting to see that this is really changing people’s lives.
“It is just so rewarding because the women are delighted — they are no longer on job seeker — they’re paying taxes, they have money.
“Those benefits then ripple out through the economy.”
The Mount Gambier Advertiser is a News Corp publication
Organisations or women keen to engage the services of our Facilities Maintenance team, or tradeswomen wishing to join our network of contractors, please contact:
Mount Gambier & Warrnambool
0426 807 595
Melbourne & Suburbs
0434 781 365