22 March 2024

Workshops showing 'barriers and challenges' no match for regional women

| Claire Sams
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Two women standing by a large screen

A series of workshops helping women get back into the workforce is moving into its next round. Photo: Empowered Collective/Facebook.

For Deborah Fulton, it is the little things that add up – that is, the planning, organisational and management skills women use in their homes every day.

“There is a real need for women to build their self-confidence when we’ve had a break from the paid workforce,” she said.

“Women do a lot of unpaid work, but our society doesn’t recognise all those transferrable skills that can be incredibly useful in the workplace.”

Ms Fulton is the organiser of the Empowering Women – Return to Work Pathways Program, delivered in partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn and Women NSW.

Rounds of the program in Batemans Bay, Merimbula and Goulburn have finished, though the next round is set to start in early May with women from Young and the surrounding area.

“We’ve had this overwhelmingly warm response from agencies and women in regional areas,” Ms Fulton said.

“They overcome a whole lot of barriers and challenges at home, and they’re uplifted and ready to move forward with their personal goals.”

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The Return to Work workshops cover topics intended to give participants a leg-up in the workplace, such as time management skills, how to apply for jobs, writing resumes and cover letters, stress management and mindfulness.

“They’re focused around developing the women’s job readiness, building their belief in their competence and connecting them with mentors.

“We look at what is going on at home and then we talk to the women about study and work goals.

“If they want to update their resume with something new, we hope to help them with volunteering.”

Once the workshops conclude, the participants attend individual mentoring sessions, which can offer further information on volunteer and work opportunities, training courses, support services and related matters.

Ms Fulton said the workshops were not intended to push women into full-time work.

“We try to find sustainable long-term work for the women, but we know that sometimes they may not be ready for work for a while afterwards – if not ever, depending on what their barriers are.

“Others move into study, in things like community services, aged care, teaching, administration courses or construction.”

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Ms Fulton said bringing regional women together was key in building a sense of community.

“Women in regional areas are often forgotten about,” Ms Fulton said.

“They tend to concentrate resources on the greater Sydney region, but there is the same level of needs in regional areas as there is in the city.

“Coming to the workshops is uplifting, because they realise there are other women that are struggling with the same things and asking the same questions.”

The workshops are open to women of all ages, at all stages of life.

“The important thing is providing them with support on their journey,” Ms Fulton said.

“It warms my heart when a woman comes in for her mentoring session or a workshop and they’re more confident.”

The Empowering Women – Return to Work Pathways Program is delivered by Empowered Collective in partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn and is funded by the NSW Government through Women NSW.

There is no deadline to register, though those interested need to call 0491 015 595 or email [email protected] to register their position.

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