Increasing options, improving outcomes

ON the surface, the Increasing Women’s Options course may appear to be just another offering at the Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House, but to the 20 women who have been through, it has also been about finding themselves again after becoming everything to their families.

Morwell resident Alice Foster, a mother of two young school-aged children who had recently separated from her partner and relocated to the Latrobe Valley from Toora, said she signed up to the course at the insistence of a friend.

“You can know things in theory, but to embrace them and practice them often takes the support of others to comfort you through the sometimes tough process,” Ms Foster said.

“The course provided many positive outcomes (for me) on several levels.”

Acknowledging she had suffered from “just a mum” syndrome, where she had harboured feelings of insecurity and negativity, Ms Foster said the course helped open new doors to her.

“During the course, we learned new skills like resume writing and computer skills,” she said, adding she felt more confident to re-enter the workforce.

“As a result of this, I’m a better mother, mentor and member of society.

“We all started out as strangers but now we are good friends; our get-togethers provide a safe and happy relief for most of us.”

Calling the course a “Godsend”, Ms Foster said her new life was “more complete” having participated.

“Sometimes, your family can hold you back; you learn about setting boundaries, and the course has helped me on a personal level as well,” she said.

Since the course began two years ago, Traralgon Neighbourhood House education officer Julie Callahan said the feedback they had received had been extremely encouraging.

“Women can sometimes lose confidence and forget about themselves and they fall in a rut; this course brings them together to interact, open their minds, identify their strengths and talents as well as what’s holding them back,” Ms Callahan said.

“This course is for women who want to increase their self esteem and confidence, improve their skills and explore their goals; it is a Learn Local course so it is government funded and pre-accredited.”

Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House offers the course one day a week over a six month period.

“The course also serves as a pathway into some of our other courses, or even courses at TAFE,” Ms Callahan said.

Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House coordinator Jenny Poon said the reality of the situation was many women found it easy to be “stuck” in jobs which were easy to do, but aspired for better jobs.

The Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House is in the process of looking for participants for its 2013 program; an information session for all interested participants will be held on 5 March at 10am.

For more information, phone

5174 6199.