Moving Forward with a plan, self-confidence and mentor support

The effects of domestic and family violence can often linger long after the women have left the situation, with women frequently encountering many obstacles on their journey to financial and personal security.

However, with the right support and encouragement, they can soon be back on a more stable path.

Recognising this, the Hunter Region Working Women’s Group Ltd (HRWWG) created Moving Forward, a mentoring program to enable women who were isolated, socially disadvantaged and had experienced domestic violence to take the next steps to support themselves and feel secure.

To implement the program, they received an Innovation for Community Impact (I4CI) grant of $82,000. The I4CI grant funding covered a project manager and mentor trainer, program establishment costs, a graduation event, promotion, travel and more.

This project supported 30 women and their families, allowing them to focus on their future and how to manage financially through paid work.

The holistic program involved skills analysis, short training sessions to develop skills, mentoring, networking and identifying and developing tangible work options (such as business cooperative or micro business ideas), rather than the traditional approaches of counselling and case management.

Each participant was asked to identify their own skills and developed a personal action plan to assist them to gain work, further education or open their own business. All mentors are trained in trauma informed care, accidental counselling, domestic violence and mentoring.

The impact of appointing a qualified volunteer mentor to support each person through the journey and the subsequent impact on the participants has been extraordinary and incredibly satisfying for everyone in involved. Here is just one example.

Helen* (mentee) was a teenage mother loving in a rural town where it’s difficult to get to school to complete her high school education. Her objective in the project was to get her driver’s licence which will make it more manageable for her to get to school, rather than relying on her mother to drive her each day. She would like to eventually become a police officer.

Her mentor had a similar experience in life also having had a child at a young age but with determination has since studied and now works in business. Helen’s mentor takes her for driving lessons, and sometimes they use this time to also discuss parenting and other issues.  

Helen has achieved that goal – completing her driving lessons and gaining her P Plates so that she could get herself to school. And she has now completed of her HSC!!!

Helen’s mentor said: “Helen’s growth has been fantastic during the project, and will prove to be of long term benefit to her life and something she can be proud of achieving.”

Moving Forward was an innovative approach to support women leaving domestic violence in a new way ‐ by building their skills, confidence and self-direction, and reducing their economic vulnerability.

These women proved that if you are passionate, willing to learn and feel supported – you can achieve anything!

*Names changed for privacy.

Mini case studies
  • Michelle* (mentee) wanted to start her own small business selling homemade slices. She completed a costing exercise and Safe Food Handling course during the program. Michelle secured a customer before doing any active promotion of her business and has started drawing a small income from her business.
  • Jane* (mentee) has a disability as a result of an accident that has paralysed the left side of her body. Jane wrote a book which is now published that assists people in to do everyday tasks one handed, like tying shoelaces. She is also working on a series of children’s books relative to disability and domestic violence.
  • Emma* (mentor) – said “I learned how far a supportive figure in your life can take you. The program really enabled me to learn a lot about the strength and resilience of women, and that sometimes all you need is a person who is there for you.”

*Names changed for privacy.

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