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

Mikaela Stafrace set up WomenCAN Australia in 2019 after she realised her successful corporate law career of more than three decades had ceased satisfying her, leaving her needing a fuller sense of purpose.

So she quit her successful job and started helping other women get jobs. WomenCAN Australia, which operates in Bendigo, elsewhere in regional Victoria and in Melbourne, teams up with training institutions and employers to give free training and guaranteed jobs to women and girls.

"Our earn and learn programs, coupled with our unique peer-support model called The Placement Circle, builds confidence in these women as they gain skills, employment, and financial independence. We’re growing fast and the women report that coming to us has changed their lives,’’ Mikaela says.

Her life has changed, too. Starting and running an organisation with a social and economic purpose inspires her; she’s thriving along with WomenCAN Australia "It’s thrilling and inspiring to see the effect the team’s work is having.’’

The organisation - a registered charity that receives funding from individual and corporate donors, the state government and philanthropists – has a staff of about 20 around Victoria and is currently working in aged care and childcare, as well as various trades. It runs a social enterprise that provides tradeswomen who do facilities maintenance and other work as commissioned.

WomenCAN Australia is continuing to expand. "We’re picking up on increasing demand for hospitality workers in regional Victoria. Who knows who we’ll partner with next here to get more women trained and into great jobs,’’ Mikaela says.

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