A quarter of Australian women having experienced domestic or family violence. So the founder of tech startup Scriibed, Melanie Greblo, decided to do her bit to help, launching Banksia Academy, a first-of-its-kind virtual hub to help women achieve long-term financial independence through training, education, employment pathways, and support.
The not-for-profit platform opens its virtual doors this week, having raised $170,000 in Seed funding from philanthropic organisations, including $100,000 from Tara Nelson Carnegie’s the Vasudhara WildWomen Fund.
Greblo said the free virtual platform acts as a gateway to sustainable employment opportunities. Its initial focus is on digital roles that allow for greater flexibility, access to better paid jobs, and full immersion into the digital economy.
The Banksia Academy hub also provides personal development and education opportunities, job readiness programs, and wrap-around support including expert-led sessions, 1:1 mentoring programs, and peer-support groups.
Sydney-based Greblo created Banksia Academy after a personal experience sparked the idea in 2020.
“I know first-hand the challenges women survivors can face. Research suggests that yearly in Australia, over 1 million women have or will experience violence, emotional abuse and stalking, with 90% of these women also experiencing financial abuse,” she said.
“For women wanting to leave abusive relationships, their choice is often either violence or poverty, and many women return to abusive relationships for primarily financial reasons – it’s just not good enough. Banksia Academy is here to help break the cycle and support the long-term financial independence of women survivors.”
Greblo said she wants to “collectively lift the gaze of the community” to assist survivors.
“For lasting social change, we need to look beyond low skilled work and a life on the poverty line, and focus on holistically supporting women into higher-skilled job opportunities,” she said.
The flow-on positive impacts for women, their children and generations to come, is incomparable to the status quo.”
Banksia Academy’s Hub provides women with access to:
Personal development & education opportunities: Banksia Academy partnered with Ubiquity University to offer a range of over 40 personal development and education courses including Communication Strategies, Personal Productivity, and Presentation Skills. Job Readiness. It has curated a job readiness program tailored to helping women survivors re-enter the workforce.
Employment pathways: Banksia Academy partnered with Scriibed to offer flexible, digital employment opportunities for women, with more partners to be announced later this year.
Wrap-around support: Women have access to a calendar of weekly programs and events they can choose to attend including journaling sessions and meditations, as well as expert-led sessions by family lawyers, financial advisors, child psychologists etc. Mentoring: 1:1 mentoring programs will be available, connecting survivors to trauma-informed support to help them reach their study and career goals.
Peer-group support: The hub offers access to virtual peer-support groups to help stay connected, no matter where women live in Australia.
Additional support referrals: The hub connects women with crisis services, and other relevant support services, to help support them in all facets of their recovery.
Tara Nelson Carnegie said she was delighted that the Vasudhara WildWomen Fund could invest in Banksia Academy to give women a new chance to transform their lives.
“For many of these women, a life on the poverty line is the only option they can see and this is simply unacceptable in 2022,” she said.
“Having personally worked with Melanie on a number of projects over the past decade, I know that if anyone can shift the dial on this issue, it’s her. I am thrilled that the VWWF has the honour of supporting a woman daring to dream of an over the horizon solution to this issue.”
More at banksiaacademy.org