Looking for a job can be a daunting task, and it can be even more challenging if you have a criminal record. Hear from candidate Amy* who was interviewed by Board member Dr Prudence Black.

*Image changed for privacy.

In July 2022, Amy had just completed 14 months of rehab and while she was in a transition program she heard about Success Works. She hadn’t worked in 10 years, and she had no idea about how to get back into the workforce. She contacted Success Works and found immediate support. Amy said, “… it was really nice not to be judged. And they helped to explain everything. And they made me feel really comfortable.”

Amy had used other services such as Centrelink but mentioned that other services don’t always understand how hard it is to try to get back into the workforce and the difficulties women with a criminal record face. She said these services don’t have people working there with a criminal record (lived experience) so it is difficult for them to understand what it means to have a criminal record and a complex personal history.

One of the things that struck her about the Success Works program was the optimism from the staff about the possibility of finding work. Amy was quite realistic about not having much working experience but the staff at Success Works suggested she start with “…an easy job for now, and then maybe possibly looking at getting some more experience…[like] doing some type of courses or looking into other training. Because, like I said, I hadn’t worked in 10 years.”

Today, Amy has a job at Harris Farm Markets at Flemington and even though it takes her over an hour to get there it is worth it. She loves her new job: “It gives me routine and structure and everyone is so lovely and I’m learning new experiences and just how to be punctual and on time and reliable. I’m learning all these tiny little things that can be put on my resume that will help me get a better job. But it’s also about being realistic and knowing it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Success Works has provided Amy with a mentor who is there to help her with any questions she has about her new life at work. She finds it useful to contact her mentor on a weekly basis to ask about things to do with her pay slips, her tax, and other work-related matters. Amy has other support networks such as Vinnies which helped her find a house when she got out of rehab but with her family living in Bathurst, it helps to have the close support of a mentor. Amy describes her relationship with her mentor as being “like a really good friendship” and “she’s so helpful, I would definitely not be able to do it without her.”

Amy has lots of reasons to be optimistic about her future and having a job is at the heart of this. She describes it in this way: “I don’t know anybody up here [in Sydney], and I’d just come out of doing rehab and I’m trying to change my whole life. So just being around normal people. People that are working and in the right head space. Yeah, it’s so important to me at the moment.”

If you are a job-seeker The Success Works program will help you to develop a pathway to self-reliance and empowerment through transitional support, professional development workshops, professional styling advice, and provision of suitable clothing and mentoring both before and after securing employment. This pathway also includes an introduction to employment opportunities offered through our employer partnership program. If you are recently released or you have been in the community for some time, we would like to hear from you.

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