Overcoming Barriers and Re-introduced Into The Workforce

Overcoming Barriers and Re-introduced Into The Workforce

Deirdre has come a long way since she started her study journey at Centacare in April 2022. In 2010, as Ireland approached the end of the Celtic Tiger, Deirdre’s husband decided to move their family to Australia for employment opportunities. Since then, her husband has been the sole breadwinner for their family while Deirdre took care of their children. 

“My husband was very dominant, and he controlled all our finances,” Deirdre explained. “I often felt bullied and alone, and he was never present for his children’s school or sports activities and achievements. It’s only when you step back that you realise the relationship I had was not like a normal happy marriage.” 

After her divorce two years ago, Deirdre suddenly found herself in a vulnerable position, where she had to seek financial aid to support her three young children. 

“When my husband decided to walk out, he cancelled my credit cards and closed the bank accounts. There were quite a lot of coercive behaviours over the years, but it just exploded two years ago. I had to go to Centrelink for financial help. I was also waiting for a hip replacement, so I couldn’t even walk at the time. He kept me in quite a vulnerable situation. He told me to behave myself, and if I kept a civil tone, then he would pay the rent for our children.” 

Through Centrelink, Deirdre was sent to APM Employment Services to receive support in returning to the workforce after a long absence. With her interest in admin support work, they had referred Deirdre to Centacare’s Digital Literacy course.

When Deirdre first came to Centacare in April, she was not in a good place. Given the recent marriage separation and only eight weeks after her hip replacement surgery, she attended the on-site assessment interview while still on crutches.

“I came here and did an interview with a lovely lady to see what level I should be at. I burst out crying during the interview because there were days when my situation really hit me. The things my husband did weren’t very nice. So, it kind of got the better of me that day. But anyway, the assessor ran through which levels I should be at and checked my literacy to see where best to place me.”

“The class was excellent. It was a lovely friendly atmosphere. There was no one-upmanship, nothing like that. I was lucky and picked most of it up easily. There were two or three of us who were catching on quickly, so if we were able to help the others, we did so. I liked the beginner class, and it was a good way to prepare for the intermediate class.”

With challenges come opportunities

Towards the end of her intermediate DL course, Deirdre received a call from her local dentist offering her a trial run as a receptionist after finding out she was taking a computer course to find employment. After her trial week, Deirdre was hired by the clinic to work in a casual capacity while she continued to study her course this year. She works one day a week and attends her classes in the advanced DL course for two days at Centacare.

When asked about the challenges she faces throughout her study journey at Centacare, she said: 

“The challenge is being slightly older. You are physically not as young as you used to be. I just have to change my whole mindset and realise that I am not just a mother anymore and that it’s ok to re-educate myself and actually do something for me! Confidence is another big thing. I saw my classmates in the beginner class and thought, “Look how awesome these women are. They have moved to a different country and are now learning computers in a foreign language. It can’t be easy for them. And yet they are still coming in every day and doing this!” I think when you come to a place like this, because it is so diverse and varied, and there are people from all races, backgrounds, cultures and attitudes, it opens your eyes and your mind. No matter how bad you think your day is or how bad things might have been, you look at some of the others, and you go Actually, I am quite lucky, and I can build on this, and I can get to where I need to go, then maybe I can put a hand out and pull someone else up!

After this year and upon completion of her advanced course, Deirdre would like to increase her hours at the dental clinic as a receptionist and hopes to one day be in a position where she can get a mortgage for a house that no one can take away from her. 

“Here at Centacare, the staff are so helpful and kind and would bend over backwards to help you understand how to work things out. I have to say I’ve loved being here, and I’m so grateful to my Teachers. This computer course has given me the confidence to retake control of my life.”

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