$2 million to support diverse women find employment
February 12, 2024

A new round of applications for the NSW Government Return to Work Pathways Program opens today, with up to $2 million available to support women from diverse backgrounds get job ready and secure sustainable employment.

Eligible organisations can apply for funding between $100,000 and $250,000 to implement tailored programs that work to decrease the barriers that prevent women re-entering the workforce by providing wrap-around support including training, mentoring and pathways to employment.


The program will focus on supporting women and girls:


  1. From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  2. Living in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
  3. Of diverse sexualities and genders, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and/or asexual
  4. Who are living with disability
  5. Who are living with mental illness
  6. Who are in contact with the criminal justice system
  7. Who are veterans


Since its launch in 2023, the Return to Work Pathways Program has funded 13 successful projects and is supporting more than 1,000 women with their employment goals.


Plate it Forward received a $150,000 grant to boost its work to create training and employment opportunities for refugee women through social enterprise hospitality venues. The project has successfully delivered over 1,100 hours of employment support and on the job training through a mix of formal and informal training sessions. Fifteen women are currently employed by Plate it Forward, with one participant recently promoted to a supervisory role. 


Return to Work Pathways Program grant applications open Monday 12 February 2024 and close Monday 11 March 2024. For more information on the grant program, eligibility information and how to apply, visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/grants-and-funding/return-to-work-pathways-program


Minister for Women Jodie Harrison said:

“The NSW Government is committed to fostering economic opportunity, and boosting participation and empowerment for women and girls across the state.


“The Return to Work Pathways program supports those objectives by focusing on intiatives that support women who are experiencing persistent barriers to employment.


“Grants awarded through this program have helped women access sustainable employment opportunities through coaching and training, mentorships or local opportunities. By creating pathways into work and careers for women, it means they can have financial security and face life’s challenges with confidence.”


Head of Impact at Plate It Forward, Gemma Clendining said:

“Many of the women we encounter experienced challenges finding work due to limited work experience or limited English language skills. Financial stress was also a recurring challenge, with 50 per cent reliant on government support as their main source of income.


“Since our program started six months ago, all 15 women supported by the Return to Work Pathways Program have not only maintained their employment and increased their skills but also demonstrated a newfound self-assurance while doing so.


“Our goals for the future are to support women further through their career development to ensure greater financial wellbeing in the long-term, not just for them, but for their families and communities.”