Sharonah’s Employment Journey

Sharonah’s journey to employment was not an easy one to begin, but she knew coming to the Wirrpanda Foundation was a step in the right direction.

“I would head out to the warehouse Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for Fit4Work and one day one of my mentors, Alisha, said, ‘Hey do you want to go for this job I found?’”

“I thought it would be an amazing opportunity and saw it as a turning point in my life. I sat at home that night, and from then I never turned back.”

She passed all the requirements and interviews for a position at Spotless as a Call Centre Consultant.

“It was just a moment of change, like a light switch, it was like I’m going to do this. I thought I wasn’t strong enough to do that, but I proved to myself I could.”

Sharonah went on to enjoy her position at Spotless, even winning an award for making a significant difference through her role. As a participant in the Wirrpanda Foundation VTEC program she was supported by her mentor during the at-times difficult first stages of employment.

“My mentor was in contact with me, emailing or calling, for the first six months of starting. Just to be checked in on was encouraging, because if I hadn’t of liked it they could have helped me out, but I was proud of the work I was doing.”

Coming from a long line of independent woman she says, “I feel very accomplished, and now I’ve paved the way for my younger siblings and partner. I’ve lead by example.”

Sharonah began looking to how she could progress her own career by following her passions. Looking to the opening of the Wirrpanda Foundation’s new business hub as an opportunity, she applied for a position.

“I wanted to work here because I was doing a lot of over the phone and email contact at Spotless. I wanted it to be more in-person communication, because I believe I’m a people person. I just wanted to see that change and I knew what they were doing here at the Wirra Hub seemed so amazing, helping Aboriginal businesses.”

Now Sharonah works at the Wirra Hub front desk she is regularly interacting with potential and existing clients.

“Like this lady came in the other day saying, ‘I did not know the services that the Hub provides.’ All she kept saying was, ‘I can’t believe my dreams are going to come true.’ I was so excited to be in that moment with her, and eventually I want to be there too.”

“Another guy came in and he was an Elder. I grew up to always respect your Elders, always look after your Elders and whatnot. So I came out, offered him a tea or coffee, made it, and then had a chat with him, just made him feel comfortable.”

After hearing the Elder mentioned positive things about her in return, Sharonah said, “I must be doing something right, even though I’m just meeting and greeting, it’s a big job to make sure everyone is ok.”

Discussing what Sharonah envisions for her future, she talked about how far she’d come since first trying a Wirrpanda Foundation program six year ago.

“My goals used to be save up for my 21st birthday. Now I’m 27 and I’ve been ticking off things like getting my license, getting a job, and getting a car. What’s left is just a home and my own business.”

Sharonah was able to make a huge change for herself, and when she recalls some advice that made a difference she says, “Just go for it. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t think too hard about it, because that’s when you start doubting yourself and doubting the change.”

“There are people walking through these doors every day wanting to start a business, and that gives me hope as well, to be able to know that your dreams will come true no matter what as long as you put your mind to it.”

The Wirrpanda Foundation and Wirra Hub are fortunate to have staff like Sharonah to assist in the delivery of education, employment, and business opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

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