Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      

Trust The Experts

We are the experts in this space and that’s why we’ve assembled some of the best resources available in Australia about this area of employment.

Our Resources

Government

Funders

Employers

Mentors

Job-seekers

Media

Resources For Government
Decision-Makers

Current research about the causes and effects of incarceration frequently positions entrenched disadvantage as a key factor in the incarceration of women. However, the research surrounding incarceration and employment, particularly how it affects women is a complex issue that spans gender and culture. It also includes the need to understand how female offenders perceive shame and stigma in relation to a criminal record as they seek employment.

The research papers and resources below can help interested individuals and groups gain an understanding of some of these issues affecting women with a criminal record. They discuss employment relations, as they relate to recruitment discrimination, and discrimination law. We hope that this literature can help everyone to understand the important challenges that women face after they have experienced the criminal justice system, and especially alongside their attempts for rehabilitation through employment.

Female ex-offenders, Discrimination and Work

This research paper investigates the Role of the Success Works Initiative into female ex-offenders, discrimination and work.  A paper written by Dr Diane Van Den Broek, Dr Prudence Black and Eleni Psillakis.  Click below to read more

“Do Not Pass Go” Report

This short article highlights the type of ‘moral panic’ that often surrounds the exponential increases in the demand for police checks during recruitment processes. It suggests that this drive for police checks reflects considerable fear and prejudice as well as fear of litigation on the part of employers in Australia. Source: Naylor, B. (2005). Do Not Pass Go: The Impacts of Criminal Behaviour Checks on Employment in Australia. Alternative Law Journal, 30 (4), 174–179.

“Criminal record checking and employment” Report

This article highlights the importance of employment to the rehabilitation of offenders, yet argues the growth of employers routinely checking criminal records often denies offenders employment. It outlines how recent campaigns aimed at ‘banning the box’, requiring that questions about criminal record are deferred to a later point when the person could address them in interview, may be an improved solution. The research draws on findings from surveys and interviews with human resources personnel about their criminal record checking practices to identify some key concerns of employers. The research highlights how legislation, government policy and industry regulation as well as internal factors about proximity of the decision maker to the applicant and to other staff shapes the willingness of some employers to engage with ex-offender applicants. It also suggests that opening up conversations with people with a criminal record will help them desist from reoffending. Despite this, many employers adopt a risk-averse approach to employment, pre-emptively excluding potentially productive employees, and putting such ex-offenders at risk of deeper exclusion.

Source: Heydon, G., & Naylor, B. (2018). Criminal record checking and employment: The importance of policy and proximity. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 51(3) 372–39.

“Women in Prison” Report

Women in Prison: an examination of the support needs of women in custody with children. This report by Jude Lobo and Mark Howard highlights the support needs of women with children in NSW prisons.

Opinion: Could prisoners be the solution for labour shortages?

Recently the Institute of Public Affairs suggested that prisoners should be provided a choice of taking work in the service industry in lieu of a prison sentence. (SMH, 10.3.23) On the surface, this might seem like a great way to plug the immediate labour shortages faced by Australian service industries, while also sparing individuals time behind bars. They argue savings to taxpayers through reduced incarceration costs and extra income tax revenue.

However, such a proposal raises several concerns. Read the opinion piece by Associate Professor Diane van den Broek, Board Member

Mapping the needs and experiences of children affected by parental imprisonment: A national survey

Children who experience parental imprisonment are known to be some of the most disadvantaged and overlooked in our community. They often experience multiple and compounding disadvantages, with long-term consequences, but receive no specialised assistance. Rigorous knowledge about these children and their families is lacking in Australia and is required to inform policy development.  The study was approved by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (Project ID: 31763). The study was commissioned by SHINE for Kids and is supported by funding from them. The aim of the report is to improve understanding of the characteristics, needs, and experiences of children with a parent in prison.

‘They weren’t there when I needed them’: we asked former prisoners what happens when support services fail

Experiences within the first day or two of release can dramatically shape a person’s post-release pathway. This article from The Conversation highlights the lack of support services for recently released prisoners.

Why are our prisons full of domestic violence victims?

The number of women in prison is continuing to soar, new data shows. But advocates warn we can’t arrest the increase until we start properly addressing domestic abuse, which affects an overwhelming majority of women behind bars.

Community Led Justice

Most Australians are giving consideration about how they will vote in the upcoming referendum to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. In this article, Board member Dr Prudence Black looks back to the 1967 Referendum, which was the last referendum that directly addressed Australia’s Indigenous people.


Explainer Video

This one-minute video explains why breaking the cycle of female incarceration needs to be a priority for policy and decision-makers.

Resources For Funders

Our funders play an essential role in changing women’s’ lives. Read below about our 3 year strategic plan and our impact.

Our Theory of Change

This one page document outlines the Success Works Theory of Change, which explains how we work with women with a criminal record to deliver our impacts, which in turn lead to lasting change and a reduction in reoffending (recidivism). 

Signalling Success

Signalling Success is an evaluation of the Success Works pilot program by Diane van den Broek and Prudence Black. Click below to view. 

Female ex-offenders, Discrimination and Work

This research paper investigates the Role of the Success Works Initiative into female ex-offenders, discrimination and work.  A paper written by Dr Diane Van Den Broek, Dr Prudence Black and Eleni Psillakis.  Click below to read more

What are the root causes of women with a criminal record facing unemployment?

Understanding why women with a criminal record face unemployment is multi-faceted and can seem complex and hard to grasp. In this article, Success Works Board members Nicola Norris and Dr Prudence Black explain the reasons why women with a criminal record face such high levels of unemployment and how Success Works addresses this issue. It is a must-read for any employers, funders, and government decision-makers.

Government funding boost for women with experience of the justice system

Success Works has been successful in gaining support from the NSW Government through a Payment-by-Results contract. The initiative delivered in partnership with the Department of Education and Office of Social Impact Investment (OSII) in NSW Treasury (under the Social Impact Outcomes Fund), will advance the social and economic wellbeing of women facing barriers to employment.


Our latest Impact Report

Success Works Partners began its service in July 2022. With two staff members and a very enthusiastic Board, we set about establishing a program that is unique in Australia. We were inspired by significant research, undertaken in Australia, which clearly pointed to a shameful situation in our community – that women with a prior criminal history generally don’t have access to labour market opportunities once released from custody. Such blatant discrimination cannot be allowed to continue for the sake of our families and communities as well as for our employment system. Read the full Impact Report below


Success Works Partners Strategic Plan 2023 – 2025

Our vision is a world where women who have been impacted by the criminal justice system face ZERO discrimination in recruitment and employment. Our Strategic Plan identifies four strategic objectives that will guide our work over the next three years, underpinned by our people and our values.

Resources For Employers

We meet so many employers, and the vast majority have asked for guidance in this area of recruitment. Download some of our FREE resources today! 

Unsure about how to assess and manage police checks?

Our 6 step guide will provide you with a clear and consistent approach to assessing risk and to guiding the decision-making process around this area of recruitment, with expert tips on how to assess and manage the Police Check process.

Please email us for a copy of this guide and we will be happy to send it out to you: info@successworks.org.au 

Hear from employer WINC, on why your background won’t hold you back at WINC!

Hayley Scott is Head of Social Impact for Winc, an Australia-wide workplace supplies company.

She loves her job and has valued her long-term relationship with the charity Dress for Success, Sydney, and more recently Success Works. As part of this support, Hayley meets with Success Works monthly and checks the list of roles for potential candidates.

TED Talk: Why we hire “unemployable” people

Trips to a bakery always ends with a cookie and a smile -but at the Greyston Bakery in New York, USA,  run by Mike Brady and Dion Drew, the extra icing is their goal of serving up a second chance. The recipe for the success of their enterprise includes a commitment to employing a range of chronically unemployed people, including former convicts and recovering addicts.

“Do Not Pass Go” Report

This short article highlights the type of ‘moral panic’ that often surrounds the exponential increases in the demand for police checks during recruitment processes. It suggests that this drive for police checks reflects considerable fear and prejudice as well as fear of litigation on the part of employers in Australia. Source: Naylor, B. (2005). Do Not Pass Go: The Impacts of Criminal Behaviour Checks on Employment in Australia. Alternative Law Journal, 30 (4), 174–179.


Need Workers? Hiring Job Seekers With a Criminal Record Can Be the Right Move

In a tight labour market, more companies are seeing the benefit of giving every candidate a fair chance. This WSJ article shows how employers in the US are embracing change.

“Criminal record checking and employment” Report

This article highlights the importance of employment to the rehabilitation of offenders, yet argues the growth of employers routinely checking criminal records often denies offenders employment. It outlines how recent campaigns aimed at ‘banning the box’, requiring that questions about criminal record are deferred to a later point when the person could address them in interview, may be an improved solution. The research draws on findings from surveys and interviews with human resources personnel about their criminal record checking practices to identify some key concerns of employers. The research highlights how legislation, government policy and industry regulation as well as internal factors about proximity of the decision maker to the applicant and to other staff shapes the willingness of some employers to engage with ex-offender applicants. It also suggests that opening up conversations with people with a criminal record will help them desist from reoffending. Despite this, many employers adopt a risk-averse approach to employment, pre-emptively excluding potentially productive employees, and putting such ex-offenders at risk of deeper exclusion.

Source: Heydon, G., & Naylor, B. (2018). Criminal record checking and employment: The importance of policy and proximity. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 51(3) 372–39.

Diversity Council of Australia Article

Board member Diane van den Broek wrote this article for the Diversity Council of Australia to bring attention to one area of Diversity and Inclusion that is being overlooked by most employers. Click below to read it.


When you empower women through employment, you empower families and children

Success Works has been lucky enough to have the support of some amazing women during our first year of operation. Professor Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman who at the age of 11 decided she wanted to become a lawyer. In this article, Larissa shares her strong belief that if you empower women through employment, you empower families and children.


Hear from employer WINC, on why your background won’t hold you back at WINC!

Hayley Scott is Head of Social Impact for Winc, an Australia-wide workplace supplies company.

She loves her job and has valued her long-term relationship with the charity Dress for Success, Sydney, and more recently Success Works. As part of this support, Hayley meets with Success Works monthly and checks the list of roles for potential candidates

Resources For Mentors

We meet so many employers, and the vast majority have asked for guidance in this area of recruitment. Download some of our FREE resources today! 

What will you gain from being a Success Works mentor?

Gemma Kollios is the Success Works Mentor Coordinator. Gemma’s role is to oversee the mentoring program, match mentors with mentees, provide training and ongoing support to ensure a successful mentoring experience. She is committed to making a positive impact in the lives of women who have been affected by the criminal justice system.  In this article, Gemma explains the benefits of being a mentor

Share our flyer with a friend or colleague and encourage them to be a mentor

Success Works Partners is looking for women from all different cultural, social and occupational backgrounds to participate as volunteer mentors. Download our flyer and share it with your colleagues and friends today.

“It grounds me”: The Shared Value of Mentoring

Julie Babineau is the CEO of Odyssey House NSW a rehabilitation service. In this article, Julie shares her experience of being a Success Works mentor. Julie was interviewed in late 2022.  Julie was interviewed by Board member Associate Professor Diane van den Broek

Mentors from the Heart of Beyond Bank

Success Works empowers women by providing employment pathways with the aid of mentors. They recently hosted an mentor induction event at Beyond Bank located in Homebush. This event brought together four passionate women with the added bonus that three of the women were dedicated employees of the Beyond Bank family.

.

“It grounds me”: The Shared Value of Mentoring

Julie Babineau is the CEO of Odyssey House NSW a rehabilitation service. In this article, Julie shares her experience of being a Success Works mentor.

Julie was interviewed in late 2022. Julie was interviewed by Board member Associate Professor Diane van den Broe.

Resources For Job-Seekers

Have a record? Read our guide on applying for jobs

Looking for a job can be a daunting task, and it can be even more challenging if you have a criminal record. The fear and shame you feel when you ‘tick the box’ for a criminal record check can be overwhelming. However, there are people and organisations who are willing to see your skills and there are ways to increase your chances of landing a job despite having a criminal record. Just don’t give up! In this blog, we will discuss some tips on how to get a job with a criminal record. Our staff have been through this, so we know what it feels like!

A candidate story: Amy

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.

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.” Read Amy’s story here


Could you rebuild your life after prison? | Juanita Schaffa de Mauri | TEDxKingsParkSalon

If you think life after prison must be a relief, think again. Juanita discovered that, even with a supportive family, rebuilding her life after incarceration was a hundred times harder than she imagined. Originally from Sydney, Juanita moved to Perth in 2023 searching for a fresh start and has since collaborated with The University of Western Australia’s Criminology lecturers, sharing her life experience with students. She is now a Peer Support Coordinator for Success Works, transforming the lives of women affected by the criminal justice system. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

“Without a job, you cannot start a new life no matter how hard you try”

Caroline* a candidate at Success Works had been looking for work for three years without success. Caroline’s hurdle was always her criminal record and the long gap without any references or experience because she was incarcerated. With the help of Success Works Caroline has secured an office role which is exactly the type of work she was seeking. She was interviewed by Success Works Board member, Marisa Rore.


What to ask beyond “RUOK”?

This RUOK day 14 th September, we shine a spotlight on the 70% of women impacted by the criminal justice system who have and are experiencing mental illness. With the barriers faced in the community by having a criminal record, mental health can be further impacted and employment discrimination has a massive negative impact on self-worth. Success Works Executive Officer, Eleni Psillakis, shares her personal experience and asks, “How can we continue the conversation beyond the initial question?”



From incarceration to transforming the lives of others: Eleni’s inspiring story

:In her role as a previous manager at Success Works, Eleni helped to transform the lives of women effected by the criminal justice system. With a history of undiagnosed anxiety and depression, and an intense people pleasing personality, Eleni lived with anorexia in her late teens. After the breakdown of her twenty-one year marriage, a return of depression and some bad decisions, Eleni was incarcerated for 11 months. Eleni shares her story around eating disorder, depression, mental health within the prison system and what happens to women after incarceration.

A truly insightful, raw and honest conversation and we thank Eleni for sharing her story.

Media Resources

Here are some examples of some past media stories. Success Works Partners engages with the media in order to educate the public and change public perceptions about women with a criminal record. If you are running a story, please contact Kerrie on 0409 622 587.

How KWOOP is Making a Difference

Keeping Women Out of Prison (KWOOP) is a Coalition of individuals and organisations who have a vision for better outcomes for women and children affected by the justice system. The film features KWOOP-supported projects including Arrest 2 Release, Illawarra Women’s Housing Project, Illawarra Women’s Health Centre (Women Illawarra), Success Works and WAGEC (Women’s & Girl’s Emergency Centre).


Meet the women helping smash the stigma of having a criminal record

Read about Juanita and Eleni who have both experienced the profound stigma of having a criminal record in this article on SBS News

Meet the women helping smash the stigma of having a criminal record

Hear from Juanita and Eleni who have both experienced the profound stigma of having a criminal record in this short 2 minute video.

A Future with Hope: UTS Shopfront Video

Thank you to the UTS Shopfront team who created this video for Success Works


Producer, Scriptwriter and 1st Assistant Director: Victoria Devine

Director and Editor: Charlotte Su

Director of Photography and Assistant Producer: Yuqing Li (Lori)

Production Design: Yuqing Li (Lori) and Jiacheng Zhu (Kayson) 

Sound, Camera Assistant, Lighting: Jiacheng Zhu (Kayson) 

Sound, Costume Design, Set Design and 2nd Assistant Director: Xinyu Yan (Joanna)

Actors:

Casey: Caitlyn Cabrié

Brian: Brian Bailey


From hitting rock bottom in prison to dressing for success

Eleni Psillakis still recalls the visceral pain of hitting rock bottom.

Sitting on her bed in a cell at the start of her 11-month sentence at the Dillwynia Correctional Facility for women, she considered ways to die. “I didn’t want to live. I sat in my cell, thinking maybe I can starve myself to death. That would be easy for me to do,” she tells SBS Voices

Read the article below.



“I was in prison for 11 months. Here’s how the system is stacked against women after we’ve done our time.”

Eleni is a formerly incarcerated person, released from Dillwynia Correctional facility for women in 2014 after 11 months inside.

She was the Program Manager for Success Works at  Dress for Success – a not-for-profit that supports women affected by the criminal justice system. 

“I have talked to men who have been incarcerated and they often say that they didn’t have as many problems getting employment,” Eleni tells Mamamia.

Read the article below




Diversity Council of Australia Article

Board member Diane van den Broek wrote this article for the Diversity Council of Australia to bring attention to one area of Diversity and Inclusion that is being overlooked by most employers. Click below to read it.

Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      Your Potential, Not Your Record      

Donate Now

$