Former domestic violence survivor and mum-of-three, Naomi, sat down to speak with me about how she found the support she needed to connect with community, improve her personal circumstances and start her own business.
Suzannah: Would you be able to provide a brief background on your journey?
Naomi: I was a client of ParentsNext in Perth South, Western Australia with atWork Australia. I was facing some challenging barriers; I had experienced a violent relationship which resulted in not having anywhere to live, and I have three kids who are my priority. I needed to find a way to support them and find our family a safe home. I wanted to improve my personal circumstances and start my own business. I was with ParentsNext for only a year before I entered the workforce with my own business. It’s a mobile nails and spray tan business – I get to meet all types of people in the community and do my own hours. I just needed help to start up.
Suzannah: You mention the ParentsNext program, how did that support you?
Naomi: At first, I was sceptical, but I was connected with my Job Coach, Anne, who was phenomenal. She talked me through the services that were available to me that would help build my skills and confidence back up, and I decided to make the most of these programs and use them to my advantage. I participated in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) where I joined a small group of people who were motivated and gave me the belief that ‘no matter the circumstances, you can do it’. The people teaching the course were good connections to have and the other students all wanted to be there.
Suzannah: Now you’re a business owner, what do you like most about your work?
Naomi: Most of my clients are people who are in the same situation as me; they have a lot of insecurities and they want to have that feeling of being pampered, but in their own home. I have built friendships and I have a network of people who continue to support me.
I wanted to give back to the community; fill my cup and give back, so there was a period of time that I decided to give spray tans in exchange for tinned food that I could donate to the Women’s Refuge in Mandurah, WA.
I also like the skills and business knowledge I have built up from having my own business. I feel more motivation and I now acknowledge the small wins. Employment has made me feel more grown up and has got me thinking about what’s next. I have more wisdom that has come from learning the lessons along the way, listening to the advice I have received and accepting support. I am more enthusiastic to do more and do it bigger, nothing is off the table.
But to sum it up, I got an education, I built self-awareness and I get to feel the community love.
Suzannah: What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your own business?
Naomi: The biggest challenge was financial; I really didn’t want to have to get a loan. I was able to put in the hard work and manage my family. It was tough, but we got through it.
Suzannah: What helped you feel most supported along this journey?
Naomi: My Job Coach, Anne, has been phenomenal; any question I had, she was there to answer it. She really was there to be my biggest advocate that I could do it. Even after a year; I launched my own products and won two business awards: Peel Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Recognition for a Home-based Business and a finalist in the ALCOA awards, Home-based Business category. Anne was there to celebrate with me. I now have those awards in picture frames around my house. Having this support from Anne; I want to make her proud of me.
Suzannah: How did you feel when you found out you had won the awards?
Naomi: I was so surprised! I wasn’t expecting it at all. But not long after that I became unwell; I was at the point of employing people but then circumstances changed. But that just made me more motivated to get better so I could put more in. I am working on the business plan now to come back bigger and better. Nothing is off the table.
Suzannah: How has employment changed your life?
Naomi: I feel more grown up. I have learnt a lot of lessons. I have new connections and a bigger network; that means more support and more enthusiasm to do it bigger!
I feel like my kids can be proud of me now.
Suzannah: What advice would you give to others who are finding it difficult to find motivation or work that is right for them?
Naomi: You can do it! There is always a way. Stay positive, there is always support; make the most of the support – do courses and connect with community. They will be your biggest advocates and help you achieve your goals. There will always be setbacks but don’t let that defeat you.
About atWork Australia
atWork Australia has been delivering employment services on behalf of the Australian Government since 2003. From more than 360 locations around the nation, atWork Australia delivers Disability Employment Services (DES), Workforce Australia and ParentsNext, connecting people and business so both can thrive.
ParentsNext is a government program which supports parents who are on parenting payments to plan and prepare for future study or employment.
Partnering with more than 3,500 employers across the country, atWork Australia placed 18,400 Australians into meaningful and sustainable employment in 2022, across a diverse range of industries and occupations. www.atworkaustralia.com.au