A new state government-backed sewing hub in Norlane is providing job and training opportunities for refugee and migrant women across Geelong.
State government funding of $188,000 has enabled Melbourne-based social enterprise Assembled Threads to open the regional hub, paying for sewing machines, fabric, training and employee wages.
Ten local women have begun two weeks of paid intensive training in garment production, which will lead to an Industry and Skills Certificate III Training qualification from Holmesglen Institute.
Once training is complete, the new employees will start producing environmentally sustainable and ethically sourced garments, including face masks and PPE, which could be ordered by local businesses.
Assembled Threads provides training and employment opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds who may encounter barriers to employment due to limited English language skills and qualifications not being formally recognised in Victoria.
The Norlane hub is Assembled Threads’ second location alongside its Moonee Ponds site, which opened in November 2020.
Multicultural affairs minister Ros Spence said the program would help lower barriers for women to get into the workforce.
“Women from migrant and refugee backgrounds face additional barriers to finding a job, so we are working with organisations like Assembled Threads to provide that first step on the ladder,” she said.
Lara MP John Eren said it was especially pleasing to see the pilot run in Norlane and adding to the northern suburbs’ history of manufacturing.
“We are proud to support training and employment opportunities for Geelong’s northern suburbs, while helping boost ethical manufacturing,” he said.
The project is being funded through the government’s Priority Response to Multicultural Communities During Coronavirus grants, which support multicultural and multi-faith communities to respond to the challenges of the pandemic and promote COVID-safe behaviours.
Previous funding rounds have supported more than 320 culturally and linguistically diverse community organisations with funding totalling $17.5 million.
Applications for funding are still open to support emergency food relief for multicultural communities.