Many First Nations women have been marginalised from economic and social inclusion through circumstance and stereotype. The Women’s Business: Second Chance (WBSC) hub is a ground-breaking new program that aims to ensure that women who are at risk of being left behind have access to participate in and achieve quality learning, entrepreneurship, and employment outcomes through educational and vocational training.
Despite a pause in activities due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the hub is now officially back and running with 100 women and counting registered. When asked to identify the barriers those currently registered with the hub are facing, over 70% of the Western Sydney based Indigenous women identified housing and finances as a major barrier to entering the workforce or engaging in study; most have difficulty affording rent and mortgages. Transportation is also an issue with 32% of current participants without a vehicle or driver’s licence. Another 28% identified serious health barriers – physical and mental. Finally, 22% have parenting and caring responsibilities.
“There is an urgent need to drive solutions, especially for women who have missed out on education and ensure that they are able to access decent work opportunities,” states Sarah Hendriks, Director Programme, Policy and Intergovernmental Division at UN Women in New York. As Minister Wyatt emphasises, “Not only do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play pivotal leadership roles in their families and communities, but they are also central to the development, growth and diversity of the Australian economy.”