3Es to Freedom
From 2016 to 2021, the 3Es to Freedom: Education, Employment, Empowerment program, implemented by Anglicare North Coast, worked with women from refugee and migrant backgrounds and the non-metropolitan communities in which they lived to foster socially inclusive communities. 3Es to Freedom was initially designed as an educational program that delivered timetabled classes to address the unique needs of women from refugee backgrounds and build their job readiness. The format was redesigned after piloting for six months in Coffs Harbour. The focus shifted to fostering social networks that would support the women’s safety and social inclusion.
In 2017, the program expanded to support women from migrant as well as refugee backgrounds across three sites, Coffs Harbour, Richmond/Tweed and Gold Coast. Two staff were employed at each site and the program manager oversaw delivery. In the third phase, from 2019, the program participants worked together to produce art and craft work for public exhibitions which promoted community recognition of their presence, experience and skills.
Ultimately, the 3Es to Freedom program aimed to assist women from refugee and migrant backgrounds to enjoy sustainable economic futures by finding secure employment. Despite some success, for many stable employment remained elusive. In this space, staff thoughts turned to the potential for social enterprise. In 2020, research into the potential for social enterprises to address unmet demand in these communities and increase employment opportunities was undertaken.
In brief, while grounded in the experience, strengths and support needs of the women who participated, the program nurtured socially inclusive networks through group education, community access and broader community development initiatives. When the program closed in 2021, it had supported 142 women from 36 countries including Myanmar, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Japan and Thailand and was nominated for, or won, numerous awards and commendations. These included:
- semi-finalist in the NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards in 2018,
- commended for excellence in client services and service provision at the Anglicare National Conference in 2018,
- finalist, Australian Migration & Settlement Awards, 2019, and
- winner, Southern Cross University, Impact Award for Social Justice 2019.
To get started on your reflective journey, click on the Empowering Practices link below. Additionally, you can explore the practices by clicking on the relevant section of the diagram.