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Speeches & Advocacy

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.

Mikaela's Speech
Tara's Speech

Tara Kirk is the Operations Manager Vocational Training & Employment at WomenCAN Australia.

I am delighted about what Bupa and WomenCAN Australia are doing together. 

Collaboration is clearly one of the best ways of actually helping make the place just a little bit better and fairer. 

We here today know this is true, don’t we?  

This collaboration we’re unveiling is a model. 

It is a model for matching the needs of women and employers. Mutual interest. Maybe enlightened self-interest on both sides, if you will. 

It is a model for providing a path to independence for women who, in so many cases, have had to deal with disadvantage not of their own making. 

Who have had to deal with it while caring for others. 

Strong, capable women. The sort of people you’d want to have in your team, in your organisation. 

This collaboration between Bupa and WomenCAN Australia provides women a path to financial independence through free training and a guaranteed job. 

Everyone wins. 

The women get that training, get those jobs, get that crucial independence. 

Employers get great staff. 

Communities get strengthened. 

Economies get stimulated – the pie gets bigger. 

And people get a chance to thrive. 

A lot of public debate feels like conflict, but most 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. 

Well, this collaboration is doing something – something that demonstrates how government, private enterprise, and not-for-profit organisations can and should work together. 


WomenCAN Australia is immensely proud of its unique peer support initiative, The Placement Circle, which is based on more than 40 years of research. 


The Placement Circle is women striding the path to financial independence side by side. 


It is as defining and differentiating feature of our work. 


Huge thanks again to our partners – let’s hope this marks the beginning of something that can grow and grow. And thank you all for coming. 

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