Boost for at-risk women

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Training & Education - Kristie Lim

FOL­LOW­ING four years of be­ing home­less, a The Big Is­sue em­ployee says the newly launched Women’s Sub­scrip­tion En­ter­prise is a “dream come true” and a con­fi­dence booster.

Former street ven­dor Susie Mad­sen (55) was among seven out of nine new em­ploy­ees of the in­au­gu­ral Women’s Sub­scrip­tion En­ter­prise who par­tic­i­pated in their first shift on Novem­ber 22.

WA is the fourth state in Aus­tralia to launch the pro­gram, which is an em­ploy­ment al­ter­na­tive for women who felt vul­ner­a­ble as street ven­dors.

The women would in­stead pack­age The Big Is­sue for sub­scribers in a se­cure en­vi­ron­ment.

Ms Mad­sen said it was a “real priv­i­lege” to be em­ployed by the na­tion­wide magazine. “It is a step up into em­ploy­ment, it is a step up to what I was do­ing on the streets sell­ing The Big Is­sue in the en­vi­ron­ment that I was in, (which) could be scary at times,” she said.

“Af­ter four years of home­less­ness, it is all new for me, so this is a whole new start.

“Fi­nan­cially, it will help a lot but learn­ing the new skills as well and just get­ting some con­fi­dence of be­ing with other peo­ple and work­ing to­gether.”

Ms Mad­sen said she was ex­cited to meet and work with new peo­ple dur­ing their monthly shifts.

“It is re­ally chal­leng­ing too be­cause we are all from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, so we are learn­ing dif­fer­ent things about each other,” she said.

“Some of the girls do not speak English very well, so they are learn­ing how to speak English.

“I would like to pick up more work with The Big Is­sue’s sub­scrip­tion en­ter­prise; that is my goal be­cause I love The Big Is­sue.

Ms Mad­sen said be­ing em­ployed and gain­ing hous­ing was a “good step for­ward”.

“It is a mas­sive change; it takes a while to get your con­fi­dence back again,” she said.

The Big Is­sue chief ex­ec­u­tive Steven Pers­son said many women em­ployed through the pro­gram had made re­mark­able changes in their lives.

The Women’s Sub­scrip­tion En­ter­prise has em­ployed more than 130 women in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Ade­laide since it launched in 2010.

Susie Mad­sen feels safer.

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