Women’s Employment Essentials (Mentoring Program)

By Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition

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The Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC) is a non-for-profit organisation run by passionate volunteers. We need your help to develop a mentoring program tailored to the needs of migrant and refugee women who are seeking jobs in Victoria.

Many immigrant and refugee women tell us, “I never had a problem getting work before.” But in Australia, the cultural behaviours, language and processes involved in getting a job can be confusing and disheartening. These women are often not eligible for government job seeker services, and do not have a social network to support them. They often survive on a very tight budget which makes it harder to find job offers, go to interviews, or start working.

These women need one-to-one support, advice, and encouragement as they apply for jobs, go to interviews, and fit in with the work culture. A Mentor Program gives the job seeker someone with local experience to talk to when they feel demoralised or unsure about what to do. A small misunderstanding can block the path forward, while a helpful explanation opens the way.

Moe Oo is one woman who could benefit from our program. She came to Australia when she was just 14, as a refugee from Burma. She is now 28 and studying full time.

Moe finds job-hunting a negative and draining experience. English is her second language, so it’s difficult to write resumes and cover letters, and answer questions in online applications (eg. “what would you do in X situation?”).

It is hard to stay motivated and confident. That’s why Moe thinks the mentoring program would be perfect for women like her. In her words, “the main thing is to be proactive and [have] someone to support and encourage you as well.”

To develop a solid Mentor Program for 2016, we aim to:

  • Find mentors to suit the varied needs of migrant women and asylum seekers.
  • Train and support the mentors
  • Interview and match mentors and clients.
  • Facilitate meetings with mentors and clients.
  • Monitor and evaluate the program through the first six months.

The VIRWC has received some initial funding. However, we predict that we will need another $15,000 over the course of the program and the evaluation. We want to raise this money over two campaigns.

With this first fundraising campaign, we aim to raise $7,500 to support the initial development and mentoring phases of the program. These funds will be used for various expenses, for example:

  • Promoting the program to find participants and mentors.
  • Preparing software to effectively match participants and mentors. This will also be used to track results and feedback.
  • Public transport fares, for those who can’t afford to travel to meet mentors, or attend workshops, job interviews, and trial shifts.
  • Employment Essentials kits for mentors and participants.
  • Group workshops with key speakers (expenses include the venue and food).
  • Small presents for mentors to thank them for their time and effort.

Our dream is to develop a structured mentoring and support program that we can roll out in multiple areas.

We are grateful for any donation, small or large!

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Team Members

Rose Wilson-Harrison

Alexandra Mooney

Maria Agelonitis

Su Sullivan