Breaking down barriers

3 October 2018
Woman and man chatting while sitting in a park

Traci Whitaker was volunteering at the Women’s House when she spotted a call-out to assist clients with job-readiness. As a part-time recruitment consultant, Traci felt she would be perfect for the role.

She started running classes with a small group of clients at our Resource Room back in March.

The classes focus primarily on writing resumes and cover letters, getting work history and documentation in order, and setting realistic goals when applying for jobs.

Having volunteered with the Mission for more than 10 years, Traci was familiar with our approach – which focuses on working with people’s strengths – and applied it to her work with our clients.

“I try to peel back the layers and find exactly what they are great at and enjoy doing in their work,” she says.

“I believe if they get an opportunity to re-enter the workforce then they are on the path to independence.”

Traci has been working with one client, Carolyn, since February, who just started a new job after being out of the workforce for two years.

“Getting a job is a journey of a thousand steps, and you need a lot of positive support around you to overcome the barriers and obstacles in your way,” Carolyn says.

“I had experienced conflict in my previous workplace, so I had a lot of fear about whether I could find a job where I felt safe.

“Working with Traci has been invaluable. She has supported me to rebuild my confidence.

“She has shown me how to handle certain situations and work out what is the right fit for me.

“People don’t realise some of the barriers you face. One time, during my work placement, everyone had to put in $5 for lunch, but I only had $4 in my bank account.

“When you come here for a meal, people accept you; you aren’t judged. It’s different in the workplace – you have to fit in.

“Everyone at the Mission treats you with dignity and respect. You need people around you who are going to support you to move out of these situations.

“I have worked really hard to get to where I am now, to find a job and to be welcomed back into the workforce.

“I look forward to being in a place where I can give back and support other people to do what I have done.”

With programs like Traci’s, along with our Journey to Social Inclusion Program, we can support people to regain their independence and reenter the workforce.

While work can be done at the individual level, we also need to call on Government to implement policies which provide affordable housing and adequate financial support through Newstart Allowance and Commonwealth Rent Assist to address the rise of poverty and homelessness in our community.

Please note: Carolyn kindly agreed to share her story with you, but requested her name be changed to respect her privacy.