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COTA Victoria launches ground-breaking mentorship pilot program for women

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COTA Victoria

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria has launched an innovative pilot program in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which is designed to support women aged 50+ wanting to re-enter the workforce or seek more sustainable employment by connecting them with trained and experienced female mentors.

Aptly named Women Working Together, the program aims to build on the confidence and skills needed for women to apply for a job and break down the barriers when seeking and securing meaningful employment.

COTA Victoria is highly concerned that people aged 50+ are over-represented in long term unemployment statistics. Mature aged women (50-65 years of age) are the largest group (15.72%) of long-term JobSeeker recipients, and the number of women in the 50-59 age range is significantly higher than any other age or gender cohort of long-term government allowance recipients1. In addition, women aged 50+ are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia. The 2016 Census reported that the number of women over 55 experiencing homelessness increased by 31% to 6,866 compared to 2011.

Women Working Together has been co-designed with women aged 50+. It aims to foster positive and constructive relationships between the mentee and mentor, creating a holistic and balanced approach around work and careers.

Women aged 50+, who have been unemployed for some time or not getting enough work, are eligible to join the program as a mentee. Women Working Together will provide a mentee with induction training and the support they need to help them identify and understand their strengths and skills and achieve their employment goals. The mentees will have regular meetings with their mentors for a minimum of 6-months.

Women Working Together mentors will be selected based on their willingness to share their professional skills and lived experience to support other women in their community. COTA Victoria will also provide tools, resources and training to build their mentoring skills, and expand their community leadership acumen.

Mentors and mentees will be appropriately matched via a professional and fun speed-dating process to enable the women to get to know each other and build connections.

According to Tina Hogarth-Clarke, COTA Victoria’s CEO, Women Working Together is designed to nurture positive relationships between women, and the sharing ideas and expertise to benefit the mentees striving to continue their employment journeys.

“The mentors will play a vital role in providing the mentees with advice around soft skills, building their confidence and boosting their self-esteem and an understanding of how to tap into existing community resources so they can amplify their passion to move forward into the workforce,” Tina said.

“We are determined to empower our mentees through the program, joining forces with mentors who have so much to offer in work and life skills. We are hoping that the sisterhood is embraced and valued through this program.”

Wennie van Riet, Team leader Social and Economic Participation is spearheading Women Working Together. “Having spoken to so many wonderful women aged 50+ there is a real lack of confidence due to life taking some unexpected turns and a real sense of frustration of not being offered any work, despite having excellent skills and abilities. Seeing how women can support each other to back each other up when the going gets tough and offer insights and support to get back in the workforce is absolutely gold.”

For more information, visit:

Key dates:

Date Activity
November 2021-January 2022 Mentor/Mentee applications open for 2022 program
February 2022 Mentor/Mentee induction and training
March 2022 Mentor/Mentee matching
April 2022 onwards Mentorship support


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Lourdes Antenor is an experienced writer who specialises in the not-for-profit sector and its affiliations. She is the content producer for Third Sector News, an online knowledge-based platform for and about the Australian NFP sector.


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