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Empowering Disadvantaged Women through Education and Leadership Opportunities (Australia)

Roll out ‘second chance’ programmes providing basic education for women (i.e. literacy and numeracy skills), including classes for women in prison or in shelters.

Women with issues of drug and alcohol abuse need additional support to access education and gain the confidence to move on to employment opportunities. This project provides a supportive environment and counselling while a local school provides additional lecturers. The women need access to assistance with course fees, childcare, computers and stationery as well as the fees for a First Aid course. Soroptimists are also be called on as mentors.

Many of the women in the group (Aboriginal/non Aboriginal with drug and/alcohol abuse issues) had not completed high school and required basic skills to allow them to access further education courses or employment. Leadership skills are also part of the project as the women develop confidence and the strength to break away from abusive environments and move on with their lives.

SIWA provides funding for course fees, computers and childcare and all clubs in Region have contributed to the funds. SIWA arranged for each student to receive SIWA branded satchels and stationery. WHFS reports to SIWA members. Students are expected to make some contribution.

To date there are 10 women from the original 18 who are continuing to their second terms and the Level 2 course. A variety of issues prevented the other 8 from continuing but it is thought that some will eventually come back to the course. The Big Sister type mentoring programme we had hoped would develop has yet to take shape but the project still has time to run.

The feedback from lecturers was that women in the course were dedicated and keen. Their therapists have reported that although some of the women had dropped some of their counselling sessions they had not reverted to using and were still in touch with their counsellors.  The women have developed some sense of purpose and self-motivation. The Aboriginal women’s manager reported the keenness to tell others about the course and this has resulted in greater interest from others wanting to participate.

Club: SI Western Australia Region, PFR: 26437



  • Adult Second Chance programmes are at a big part of SI’s work. Counselling for women in shelters and prison is vital, but further education & training is also needed for women to feel empowered when stepping back into the community.
  • Women must be given the tools to shine, and to be able to show their dynamism and effectiveness.
  • By educating and empowering women in prisons and shelters we greatly decrease their chances of going back, and instead increase their confidence and productivity.

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