Migrant, asylum-seeker and refugee women settle in Melbourne and across Victoria to establish a new life, bringing with them a wealth of experience and knowledge; yet sadly, they face countless challenges and barriers to inclusion and employment in Australian society. Whether it be a lack of—or simply unrecognised—work experience, low English proficiency, isolation, or low confidence, there are many reasons why these women might struggle to find meaningful work.
This is where SisterWorks shines. Supporting their network of over 1,200 Sisters from 94 different countries since 2013, the not-for-profit and social enterprise empowers migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women to enter work and entrepreneurship, thereby overcoming the challenges created by a lack of employment. SisterWorks provides training to give women the qualifications necessary to support themselves, from sewing and craftwork taught in-house to barista courses and English language classes. Importantly, the organisation works alongside the Sisters through the entire employment process, supporting women to understand the contracts, award rates and employment processes observed in Australia. Based in Richmond, but with additional hubs in Dandenong and Bendigo, SisterWorks assists and serves marginalised women across Victoria.
The organisation connects with new Sisters through word-of-mouth referrals, partner organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, as well as through targeted recruitment. The work of volunteers is crucial to the functioning and efficiency of SisterWorks’ vital work, with more staff required around busy periods like Christmas when gifting increases and pop-up stores gain traffic.
As a social enterprise, SisterWorks stocks products made by the Sisters in both its physical and online stores. These homewares, food products, body care and gifts are crafted by hand and made locally in Victoria, making each product unique and meaningful. The profits from each product sold at SisterWorks go towards either the women’s wages or developing its support and training programs; this means that for each product sold, more good can be done for women facing challenges with inclusion and employment across Victoria.
Christmas is a busy time for everyone, but SisterWorks is working especially hard as we approach the festive season. In addition to its permanent store location in Richmond (296 Bridge Road), it is currently running a pop-up store in Brunswick (141 Sydney Road) and invite Melbourne-based customers to purchase from their extensive range of high-quality, handmade goods created locally by migrant women. In addition to the regular range, there is a selection of corporate gifts which are customisable and perfect for companies still searching presents to thank and acknowledge their staff, partners or clients. Purchasing gifts from SisterWorks this festive season speaks volumes—you may be receiving a gift, but more importantly, you’re giving back and supporting marginalised women working towards self-sufficiency.
Here at Inclusive Australia, we encourage everyone to support this wonderful organisation. The online store, and its wide range of gifts, can be accessed here, or you can donate directly to SisterWorks here.
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