Breaking Barriers: Susan and Maria’s Success in AAC’s Real Jobs Program


Susan Lawrence, despite finding the opportunity intriguing, had spent thirty-five years as a stay-at-home mum, away from paid employment. She expressed her initial nervousness and hesitancy to engage with Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation’s Trailing Pathways to Real Jobs program. However, collaborations with and support from her Employment Engagement Officer (EEO), helped lower her stress and concerns about participating in community work.

Pictured: Susan Lawrence

As a stay-at-home mum, Susan had been accustomed to working autonomously. Re-entering the workforce required becoming a team player, and she was surprised at how well she adapted. Ultimately, she built confidence in communicating more comfortably with others, equipped with competence, an optimistic outlook, and a commitment to consistently participate.

Maria Hill, another individual, also felt extremely nervous about engaging in paid employment and, like Susan, had been long-term unemployed. Maria shared that participating outside the familiarity of her environment was a daunting prospect. Overcoming this fear required an exceptional person whom she could trust, feel comfortable around, and build a strong bond/rapport with.

Susan and Maria both shared the same EEO, Thande. Through this relationship, Susan was able to entertain the possibility of re-entering the workforce. Continuing engagement with her EEO eased her anxieties, allowing her world to open up, and she tested new experiences. This practice permitted involvement in professional development prospects, including [TPRJ] trial.

Pictured: Maria Hill

With increased self-assurance, a motivation to remain in the workforce, and a mindfulness of the limited opportunities, Susan was not fixated on the type of paid employment, as long as it offered a fair day’s pay, equity, and enlightenment to prevent boredom or discontent.

Two of Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation’s Awesome Foursome graduated in July 2023 as a result of the ladies’ (Maria & Susan) enthusiasm, attention to detail, reliability, responsibility, and accountability—key attributes employers look for in job seekers.

From their commitment to task orientation and due diligence, AAC was able to re-employ both Susan and Maria for a further period. Despite the overwhelming nature of the scheduled task at first glance, the ladies set targets and reached their goals, exceeding AAC’s Workforce Development Manager’s expectations by finishing the task on budget and ahead of time. Well done, ladies; we love your teamwork.

Through sheer grit and determination, AAC staff witnessed a remarkable transformation of the Tom Price Personal Protective Equipment room into a functional, ordered, and safe space to locate the necessary PPE clothing items within a short period.

AAC’s objective is to enhance employment opportunities, growth, or development of job seekers’ capacity, as exemplified by Maria and Susan.

Thank you, once again, ladies, for your dedicated contributions.

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