With more than 80% of women supported by inTouch reporting unemployment, establishing financial independence after family violence ends is a challenge far too many women face. Our inSpire initiative is working to address this issue through a new pilot program, the Wattle Project.

Designed to address specific barriers to employment faced by women from migrant and refugee backgrounds including; a lack of confidence, little or no work experience in Australia, a lack of local referees and limited knowledge of the employment market, the Wattle Project empowers women to enter the Australian workforce. By matching each participant with a volunteer work experience position aligned to their skills, training and employment goals, the program supports women to gain experience in their field with a local organisation, make professional connections, and build confidence in their abilities.

We’re delighted to report back on the experience of the program’s first participant, Aruna, who completed five weeks, full-time volunteer work experience with ShineWing Australia’s Business and Private Clients Advisory (BPCA) and Tax division.

Aruna’s journey to confidence in the workplace

Aruna, a past client of inTouch and victim-survivor of family violence, had lost all hope of finding a job when she joined the Wattle Project in November last year. Despite holding an MBA in finance from her home country, completing a diploma and certificate IV of accounting in Melbourne, and her hands-on work experience gained overseas, she’d been searching for a job without success for more than three years.

‘I’d lost all confidence in myself. Years spent searching for a job took a toll on my spirit and the employment support services I’d been eligible to access were little help. But when I connected with the inSpire initiative, I knew things would be different.’

– Aruna, victim-survivor of family violence

Upon joining our program, Aruna was linked with a mentor through our project partner Fitted for Work, who provided tailored support to prepare her for the interview and weekly one-on-one coaching throughout her placement.

‘My mentor changed my life. She taught me how to answer the interview questions, and helped me develop my interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence so I could understand the workplace culture and didn’t feel as shy.’

In addition to this mentoring, Aruna was supported by her team at ShineWing Australia to ensure the success of her volunteer work experience.

‘Having been out of the workforce for so long I had so much to learn, but everyone in my team was friendly, helpful, and happy to answer my questions or teach me a new skill. It’s amazing to think I completed six projects with six different people in just one month!’

In addition to empowering victim-survivors of family violence in their journey to financial independence, host organisations also benefit from participation in the program. When asked to describe their experience hosting a volunteer through the Wattle Project, ShineWing Australia said ‘Aruna was a wonderful addition to our team. Despite being shy in the beginning, she quickly came out of her shell. Diligent, enthusiastic and keen to learn new things, she showed initiative and worked well with the team.’ – Aruna’s Supervisor, ShineWing Australia

 ‘Sometimes you think getting involved in such a project is just too hard. The fact is, it isn’t. Not only have we benefited from Aruna’s presence, ShineWing Australia is proud to have contributed to the community in which we work and live.’

– Head of People and Culture, ShineWing Australia

Aruna with her team at ShineWing Australia

Feeling inSpired?

The Wattle Project wouldn’t be possible without the support of people like you. Help women like Aruna rebuild their lives after family violence by registering your workplace’s interest in becoming a Wattle Project business partner or gift a tax-deductable donation to inSpire to fund a woman’s participation in the program.

‘I feel so motivated, so fortunate to have had this experience. What inSpire is doing for women like me is incredible. You are giving us hope. You are bringing light and life back to us.’ – Aruna, victim-survivor of family violence

Together as a community, we can transform the lives of women and their children in a meaningful way, for the long term. Find out more about inSpire programs and join us in being a force for change.


Thank you to our funding partners Street Smart Australia, Bank Australia Impact Fund and Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust for making the Wattle Project pilot program possible.