Marisa was interviewed by Success Works Board members Dr Pru Black and Professor Diane van den Broek

I am learning and I want to share my story that it is possible to succeed… [despite] having a criminal record.

Marisa Rore is our newest Board member at Success Works. She’s also one of our most valuable Board members because she shares some of the lived experience of our candidates and therefore has a unique contribution to make around the governance and health of our organisation. 

Before becoming involved with Success Works, Marisa felt completely isolated as she tried to find adequate support structures and employment opportunities. It has been a long and difficult road especially as she applied for many courses and jobs in the past but was always knocked back because of her criminal record. Her involvement with Success Works initially came through a referral from her support worker at ParentsNext, which is a support service that helps women prepare for employment by the time their child starts school. Through her contact with ParentsNext Marisa found an opportunity to work as a volunteer at Success Works because she had a strong desire to help others and to give back to the community.

She was seeking a program to show that she had changed. In 2023 she was referred to the Success Works program and almost immediately Marisa was invited to attend a workshop.  Marisa couldn’t believe that a service like this existed:

“I’d been looking for something like this for years. Over 15 years of trying…… It was something that I wanted. I wanted some support around my criminal record to help prove my character has changed and finding employment.

Not only was Marisa accepted into the program, but in 2023 she became a Board member. She has had an interesting journey in the lead-up to her Board position, including a long-term job as a telephonist in warehousing.  Her most recent job as a traffic controller is best suited to her larger job of supporting her children. As a single mother, taking on a Board role in this personal context is a reflection of her incredible contribution and strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

Marisa had long sought a type of service and support that would specifically help someone with a criminal record. After her conviction, and like many other women Marisa had found it almost impossible to get work especially as she always made a point of declaring her criminal record during the recruitment processes. She did this even though she recognised that having and then disclosing a criminal record makes it almost impossible to get work.

For Marisa one of the key benefits of linking with Success Works was seeing the specialised support the organisation could offer women like herself but also the added component of watching the staff working hard to educate and change the opinions of employers. She sees the complexities of both sides in this equation, that is the plight of women trying to secure work after experience with the criminal justice system as well as employers who may be hesitant to give women with a criminal record a chance to work in their organisations.

Religion is a big factor in Marisa’s life and has become an important support for her. Reflecting back on the early years of her life she thinks if she had more support at the beginning of her life things may have turned out very differently for her and her children. In the past Marisa and her family have been supported by many family support networks.  And while this has been important, she feels that Success Works was unique in how it could make her believe in herself again after so many years of feeling beaten down. Her involvement at Success Works:

…let me understand that I’m not my record… I have hope, I’m learning from everyone, the language at the board meetings…every time I hear something new, I’m looking it up. It’s been good.

Being on the Board of Success Works has been a steep learning curve but she knows she has plenty to contribute and is eager for the years ahead. Her personal experience of the discrimination faced by women with a criminal record and an understanding of the complexity of women’s lives who have encountered abandonment, addictions, and domestic violence make her an excellent addition to the Success Works Board. Congratulations Marisa its fantastic to have you with us and welcome aboard!

At Success Works, we unlock the potential of women with a criminal record through our mentoring program, one-to-one support, and job readiness workshops. We also work with employers to help them address structural issues that create barriers to these women finding employment. Through this model, we provide opportunities for women with a criminal record to access sustainable employment, rebuild their lives, and not re-offend.

If you are a job-seeker, we can help you

We are currently looking for new Employers. Could you change a woman’s life?

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