Shifting the cycle, supporting local women
Women working at The Linen SHIFT Source: FRRR
The community of Byron Bay, located on Bundjalung land in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, has had a hard few years. Following two years of COVID-related restrictions hitting the tourism-dependent economy, deadly floods in early 2022 caused further damage to properties and livelihoods.
For Anne Goslett, Founder and Managing Director of local residential education program The SHIFT Project, the twin crises put important projects on pause but allowed the team to engage more closely with the community and tighten up administration.
“Our first grant allowed us to buy a washing machine so we could establish The Linen SHIFT. Financial wellbeing and independence were really important to the women we were working with.” – Anne Goslet
Established in 2015, The SHIFT Project is a short-term educational transition program for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The independent program doesn’t receive government funding so they rely on philanthropic donations and support from grants to support their clients. Over the years, The SHIFT project has received two grants through the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program which have allowed them to establish new bodies of work.
“Our first grant allowed us to buy a washing machine so we could establish The Linen SHIFT,” Anne explains. “We recognised financial wellbeing and independence was really important to the women we were working with.”
ANZ Seeds of Renewal – applications open
ANZ Seeds of Renewal is a small grants program designed to help build vibrant and sustainable rural communities and ensure the ongoing prosperity of regional Australia.
Now in its 20th year, the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program demonstrates ANZ’s ongoing commitment to shape a world where people and communities thrive. Applications for the 2022 program are open from 5 July – 3 August.
A new cycle
The Linen SHIFT is a social enterprise laundry service which provides transitional employment along with training, mentoring and skill development to help disadvantaged women sustainably enter the workforce.
“We have established ourselves within the business sector as a very viable option for women across a range of circumstances,” Anne says. “We can provide shifts between school hours to support single mums and their children. We also employ older women who have lost their confidence and haven't been in the workforce for some time.
“Some of our women may have physical difficulties or mental health issues so we partner with social workers and mental health services to build their confidence and move forward.”
The combination of lower tourism numbers – meaning accommodations don’t need the laundry service – and the impact to properties from the floods means turnover for The Linen SHIFT has dropped. Anne says although they have had to half the size of the team, she was pleased to have been able to support the affected women move into other employment opportunities – a positive outcome.
Women working at The Linen SHIFT laundry Source: FRRR
The second ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant received by the SHIFT Project is being used to establish a partnership with local Arakwal artist Nickolla Clarke called the Ngali Design Initiative.
“The grant from ANZ allowed us to buy resources to establish a textile program and partner with five-star resort Elements of Byron,” Anne says. “Nickolla is producing four pieces of artwork which are thematically linked to the nature surrounding the Elements resort. Participants in our initiative will then screen-print these designs onto material to create cushions which will be added to the décor of the resort.”
Sadly, this program has been delayed due to damage to the properties of Elements, Nickolla’s studios and The SHIFT Project’s facilities. However, Anne says they are on track to begin again shortly.
The relationship between the SHIFT Project and Elements of Byron extends beyond the Ngali Design Initiative though with the resort being one of the largest clients of the Linen SHIFT over the past few years. This rigorous focus on relationship building has helped the SHIFT Project expand with the support of the local community.
“We're very established in the community - we're well supported and well known. But we're also on Arakwal country and I want to recognise that in our work and include our First Nations people in the process of the local economy.”
As an independent program, Anne says the ANZ Seeds of Renewal funding has been integral to growing the enterprise in the local business sector as well as the welfare sector.
“Without that money we wouldn't have been able to expand and take on clients with the level of turnover such as Elements. It's been so important to have these grants – they make a huge difference,” she says.
Mark Bennett is Head of Australian Agribusiness and Specialised Commercial Banking at ANZ
You can learn more about the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program here.
A buzz for the bees