12 December 2022

Life Without Barriers, Baulkham Hills, has transformed part of its Western Sydney office into a Boutique, offering free formal wear, interview attire and brand-name clothing for young people in out-of-home care.

Child and Youth Education Consultant at Life Without Barriers, Lorna Genoud, said there is a diverse range of young people coming through the boutique. Some are looking at jobs at their local cafe, others want an apprenticeship, and some applying for university or traineeships.

“What we’re really doing is removing the barrier for young people who don’t have anything to wear for a job interview, TAFE course, job trial or dress code for school,” Ms Genoud said

“We often have young people coming to the boutique before a job interview or before training because they have never owned a button-up shirt or corporate dress.

“Some of the children we care for have never been taught what they need to do to prepare for an interview. Things like being well-dressed, looking a person they don’t know in the eye and writing an e-mail introducing yourself when applying for a job rather than just sending a resume are all skills.

“I recently had a young man come in who only had trackies to wear to his interview and was really nervous about it, so we found him a button-up, pants and a blazer which he wanted to wear so he could be confident about attending the interview.

The Boutique stocks outfits for young people from 12 years old, including years 6, 10, and 12 formals, special occasions, and job interviews.

The boutique has also given Life Without Barriers staff the opportunity to have conversations about writing a resume, cover letter or what to expect in an interview.

“We have helped with providing resume and cover letter options for young people so when they are applying for jobs, we can make sure they feel confident going into every part of that process with the right tools,” Ms Genoud said

“It makes the young people we support feel more confident in an interview. They go into it feeling less stressed because they have had someone to teach and advise them about expectations in the workforce.

Lorna has held careers days for children in residential and out-of-home care interested in entering the workforce.

“Some young people get labelled as struggling at school or even as naughty, but I often find those are the kids eager to sit there and go through career options. They want to learn about their skills and identify what they enjoy and are good at,” Ms Genoud said.

“Every kid cares about their future. We help to map it out and give them some tools to help along the way."

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