COTA Victoria has launched an innovative pilot program in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The pilot will support women aged 50+ to re-enter the workforce or find more sustainable employment by connecting them with trained and experienced female mentors.
Aptly named Women Working Together, the pilot will help women build the confidence and skills to apply for a job and break down the barriers to securing meaningful employment.
COTA Victoria is concerned that people aged 50+ are overrepresented in long-term unemployment benefit statistics. Mature-aged women (aged 50-65) are the largest group of long-term JobSeeker recipients, accounting for 16% of the total. The number of women aged 50 to 59 is significantly higher than any other age or gender cohort of long-term government allowance recipients. In addition, homelessness is growing faster among women aged 50+ than any other group. The 2016 Census reported that the number of women over 55 experiencing homelessness increased by 31% to 6,866 compared to 2011.
Women Working Together has been co-designed with women aged 50+. It aims to foster positive and constructive relationships between the mentee and mentor, creating a holistic and balanced approach to work and careers.
Women aged 50+ who have been unemployed or underemployed for some time are eligible to join the program as a mentee. Women Working Together will provide mentees with the training and support they need to help them identify and understand their strengths and skills and achieve their employment goals. Mentees will also participate in facilitated induction training and regular meetings with their mentors for at least six months.
Mentors will be selected based on their willingness to share their professional skills and lived experience to support other women. COTA Victoria will also provide tools, resources and training to build their mentoring skills and expand their community leadership acumen.
Mentors and mentees will be matched via a professional and fun ‘speed-dating’ process that allows the women to get to know each other and build connections.
According to COTA Victoria CEO, Tina Hogarth-Clarke, Women Working Together will nurture positive relationships between women and enable the sharing of ideas and expertise to benefit mentees who are striving to continue their employment journeys.
‘The mentors will play a vital role giving mentees advice around soft skills; building confidence and self-esteem; and how to tap into existing community resources so they can amplify their passion to move forward into the workforce,’ Tina said.
‘We are determined to empower our mentees through the program, joining forces with mentors who have so much to offer in work and life skills. We are hoping that the sisterhood will be embraced and valued through this program.’
Wennie van Riet, Team leader Social and Economic Participation, is spearheading Women Working Together.
‘COTA Victoria creates and delivers innovative programs that give older Victorians the opportunity to thrive in new working environments, using their skills and sharing their insights along the way,’ Wennie said.
‘Having spoken to so many wonderful women aged 50+, I’ve found that there is a real lack of confidence due to life’s unexpected turns, as well as a sense of frustration about not being offered any work despite having excellent skills. It’s absolutely gold seeing women backing each other up when the going gets tough, offering the insights and support needed to get back in the workforce.’
|November 2021 – January 2022||Mentor and mentee applications open for 2022 program|
|February 2022||Mentor and mentee induction and training|
|March 2022||Mentor and mentee matching|
|April 2022 onwards||Mentorship support|
For more information, go to Women Working Together
 “Statistical Paper No. 12 Income support customers: a statistical overview”, Department of Social Services, Canberra, Pp, 36-38, 2013