Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub
Partner | Enterprise Partnerships, WA
Location | Balgo, Western Australia
This project focuses on activating community leadership and building the skills of local indigenous women to manage and expand the operations of the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub in Balgo, Western Australia.
Since 2021, the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub has been operating out of a temporary shed on land owned by the Catholic Diocese of Broome; however, this project will ensure a permanent home and a solid foundation from which to launch other culturally-based microenterprises.
The new home will support the community to develop women’s business and retail skills, produce bush products and medicine, and other arts-based enterprises such as jewellery making.
Balgo (Wirrimanu) is one of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities, located in the south-east Kimberley region of Western Australia on the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert and the western edge of the Tanami Desert.
Women in Balgo experience extreme economic marginalisation and face unique social and environmental challenges when accessing structured activities such as training, education and employment. These pressures are severely compounded by poor mental, emotional and social wellbeing. The majority of women in the community have little to no experience or knowledge of business and entrepreneurial concepts.
This project aims to support indigenous women to become fully engaged with the economic opportunities and employment pathways available to them in remote areas through training and on-the-job experience in enterprise development.
By providing this community-led safe space for people to learn foundational skills in entrepreneurship, the hub will build confidence and job readiness. Most importantly, it will foster the long-term health and wellbeing of young women through a focus on culturally meaningful and purposeful activities.
- Refurbish two shipping containers to house the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub permanently.
- Create hands-on learning opportunities for women to develop business and entrepreneurship skills at the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub.
- Generate revenue through op shop sales to provide seed funding for other microenterprise and collective community projects.
- Provide access to affordable clothing for the community members of Balgo.
- Engage 20-30 at-risk young women in enterprise learning workshops and support them to engage with and learn from elders.
Women’s Supported Accommodation
Partner | House of Welcome
Location | Sydney, Australia
The House of Welcome’s Women’s Supported Accommodation project provides safe and secure accommodation and wraparound support for vulnerable women seeking asylum and who would otherwise be at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
People seeking asylum in Australia are not eligible for social or community housing and rely on organisations like the House of Welcome to provide transitional accommodation.
The project integrates several House of Welcome services to provide a holistic person-centred approach. The project aims to deliver an intensive casework model that can be implemented as part of a program that includes safe and secure housing, an initial period of financial and food security assistance (if eligible), and access to a weekly employment program.
The challenges faced by the women who participate in this project are acute and range beyond the stresses and implications of the refugee journey. Referrals include women who have experienced family and domestic violence or sexual and gender-based violence, as well as women who have a history of mental health issues. Many fear that reporting violence will have consequences for their protection, visa applications, or ability to remain in Australia.
Furthermore, refugees and people seeking asylum face additional barriers to stable and adequately remunerated employment, including lack of local work experience or referees and have little understanding of Australian workplace culture and processes.
This project specifically aims to:
- Reduce barriers for participants to access employment and job opportunities.
- Increase participant’s knowledge of Australian tenancy processes and responsibilities.
- Increase participant’s capacity to enter the private rental market.
- Safely transition participants from the program after 12 months.
The Women’s Supported Accommodation project provides:
- Access to safe housing.
- Intensive casework with the goal of gaining employment and finding private accommodation.
- Financial and foodbank support, if eligible.
- Enrolment into the House of Welcome’s specialised employment program, ‘Empowered to Work’, a job-readiness program aimed at mentoring people into training, employment or work experience.
- Access to housing transition support.
Educating for the Elimination of Forced Marriage
Partner | Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)
Location | Australia
This project aims to combat human trafficking, specifically in the form of forced marriage, by implementing education and prevention strategies that uphold the human rights of all people and provide support to those impacted.
Project partner ACRATH is a leading organisation in the fight against human trafficking, and through this project, they provide awareness training for key groups particularly vulnerable to forced marriage. School communities, faith-based groups, frontline healthcare staff and youth workers receive the training so that they are well-equipped to identify and respond to potential victims and survivors of forced marriage.
ACRATH finds that many young women and girls face forced marriage without knowing it is illegal in Australia. When discovering it is a crime, they may be unsure of how to exercise their legal rights and frequently face homelessness and social isolation as a result. Leaders of communities are often unaware of the legislation, reporting procedures and available support.
Over a six-month period, awareness training is delivered to at least 25 school communities and healthcare settings, impacting hundreds of staff, youth workers and thousands of Australian school students. The training addresses the specific issue of forced marriage, the human rights of all people concerning marriage, the support available to people facing forced marriage, and the illegality of forced marriage in Australia.
This project provides for the employment of an educator who is trained and experienced in forced marriage. Specifically, this trained educator:
- Provides professional development for school staff and ongoing support to assist them in introducing this topic of study into the school curriculum.
- Supports staff to confidently deliver the curriculum materials, using the resource kit ‘My Rights – My Future: forced marriage.’
- Assists school wellbeing staff to become familiar with reporting procedures regarding issues with individual students.
- Ensures that identified or suspected forced marriages of students are referred to appropriate authorities.
- Provides training adapted to frontline healthcare staff and youth workers in various settings so they are well-equipped to identify and respond to potential victims and survivors of forced marriage.
Wilcannia Marketplace – Hair Salon
Partner | CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes
Location | Wilcannia, New South Wales
The ‘Wilcannia Marketplace’ project builds on the successful CatholicCare social enterprise initiative, the ‘Cooee for Coffee’ coffee shop, creating employment opportunities whilst filling service gaps in the remote community of Wilcannia in New South Wales.
The focus of this MWIA-supported project is to establish a hair salon as part of a marketplace hub in the centre of town, providing an safe public area for the community to meet and connect.
First Nation’s communities feel a deep connection to country; therefore, leaving to find employment in other areas is not an option. As such, the hair salon project targets First Nation’s women aged 15+ by creating job opportunities within the Wilcannia community.
Focus on upskilling to increase employability is prominent in regional communities, but employment opportunities are scarce, with limited small businesses available to provide much-needed jobs. The hair salon project and its surrounding marketplace brings financial independence to many First Nation’s women and has a positive ripple effect through their immediate families and the broader community.
This project specifically aims to:
- Improve employment opportunities for First Nation’s women.
- Increase financial independence for First Nation’s women.
- Promote community connectedness and informal networks of support.
- Address a service gap in the remote township of Wilcannia.
The hair salon has been successfully registered under the name ‘Cooee for Cuts’ and a fully qualified hairdresser has been employed.
Participants have the opportunity to put learned hairdressing skills into practice through work experience, work placement, and casual and permanent employment at the ‘Cooee for Cuts’ hair salon. There are already six women who have completed a Certificate III in Hairdressing and are keen for an opportunity to put their skills to use.
Bourke Men’s Centre Project
Partner | CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes
Location | Bourke, Australia
The Bourke Men’s Centre provides a dedicated space for Aboriginal men to meet, attend to men’s business, share stories, reconnect with their culture, spirituality and community, and become role models to other young men and boys.
The Men’s Centre is based in Bourke and was established in partnership with various local not-for-profit groups, including CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes, which has worked in the community for over 18 years.
This project provides for the employment of a project coordinator to facilitate volunteer activities at the dedicated men’s space. The project coordinator engages men in a diverse range of activities, including peer support groups, skills workshops, behavioural-focused programs, and health education seminars.
By participating in these activities, men gain a sense of connection, build trust and feel safe to acknowledge and address issues impacting them and their families, and engage in individual and group-based activities towards change and healing.
Progress for the Bourke Men’s Centre project, delivered by local partner, CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes, has been challenging as its success relies heavily on the full-time project coordinator. Due to COVID-19, the project partner experienced difficulty filling the role; however, this has since been rectified, and Bourke Men’s Centre is thriving again.
The project aims to reach a minimum of 30% of the adult male population of Bourke, estimated at more than 100 men. Another 250 women and children are indirect beneficiaries through the healing impact on the men’s families.
Community ownership and impact is at the heart of this project. Collaboration between representatives of the target group and the local service provider network establishes a strong foundation. CatholicCare aims to grow this collaboration by inviting more stakeholders to participate in similar initiatives.
Project participants take ownership of the content and schedule of activities, which includes:
- Peer support groups
- Working bees and men’s working groups
- Skill-focused wood and metal workshops
- Painting competitions and community days
- Behaviour-focused workshops e.g. Parenting seminars and men’s behaviour change programs
- Men’s health education e.g. healthy eating and exercising
- Father and son activities
- Mentoring and leadership training
View other MWIA projects
In 2006 two Loreto Sisters, Elizabeth Donnan & Pat Hanvey began a new foundation in Zambia. From their home in Lukulu, on the banks of the Zambezi River, they work in grassroots development, primary health care, and education. Most recently, they established the Sancta Maria College of Nursing and Midwifery, promoting health education and economic development in this remote community.