While chronic housing shortages and lack of affordability put many Australians at risk of homelessness, gendered poverty and family violence make women particularly vulnerable.
Alongside our usual case management, our focus at Juno has also been on introducing programs that tackle the structural issues of homelessness, gendered poverty and family violence, to create sustainable change in the lives of the women we work with.
In March we launched our EMPower (Economic Mobility Power) Coaching Program, the first of its kind in Australia. In this exciting project, Juno has developed a new approach to supporting women to recover from the impacts of trauma and build a strong, economically secure and thriving future for themselves and their families.
Juno’s EMPower Coach, Tessa, is currently working with ten women to identify and set goals across life domains, including family, housing, health and wellbeing, finances, career and employment.
‘The program brings together understandings of the structural determinants of gender inequality and homelessness, as well as a deep belief in the capacity for change, healing and growth in the lives of our participants,’ says Tessa.
One of the women she is working with, Linda, says she is very excited to be a part of the program and to have the support to achieve her goals.
We have so many things going on in our lives at any given time. It’s hard to focus on and improve just one thing, so to have a support person with the means to improve our situation, or a certain part of our lives, is amazing and definitely needed,’ says Linda.
‘So often women get to a point in their lives and think, ‘well okay, this must be it then’. They don’t know if they could do anything else to better their situation, so they just stay in it.’
The unique coaching model adopts an evidence-based approach that focuses on the use of goal setting and earned incentives to support participants to achieve goals in their life.
‘This model of coaching has a strong brain science evidence base around goal setting and achievement, as well as ensuring an individualised approach that is led by each participant’s goals for their own life,’ says Tessa.
EMPower is an innovative program developed by Juno, based closely on a highly successful model created by Boston-based organisation, EMPath, which uses long–term targets to support people on low incomes to reach economic independence.
I think this program is even more important for someone who has been in an unfortunate situation like homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol related issues or any other circumstance that has prevented them from looking forward and making plans for their future,’ says EMPower participant, Linda.
Through one-on-one coaching, each woman builds a clear and achievable plan, or ‘bridge to self-sufficiency’, to achieve their goals in the identified areas.
At the end of the 12-month program, participants will arrive at a place where they have achieved their objectives and have long-term goals set within the areas of housing, wellbeing, finances, education and career.
‘A significant element of the program is that it is individualised and led by the participant’s goals for their own life, and we work together in a supportive and collaborative way to achieve them,’ Tessa says.
An important aim of the coaching method is to also develop participant self-belief and problem-solving skills for the future.
‘There is a huge body of research highlighting how powerful coaching is and the ways in which it can create momentous change in people’s lives and belief in their own abilities,’ Tessa says.
Regular workshops and short courses are also available to participants along the way to help manage finances, develop computer skills and negotiate employment planning.
‘Change is scary, especially for a woman who has others to think about just as much as herself, like her kids. So, to have someone ask you if you’d like something else to add to your life or to help you change and improve, let’s just say, it’s a huge deal. To be seen,’ says Linda.
Juno is grateful to the Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust (administered by Equity Trustees) for their generous funding of this project.