our founder’s story

Our Founder's Story - The beginning

At the age of 45, as a medical doctor and a communication expert, Luz Restrepo arrived in Australia in 2010 seeking political asylum. Her life was in tatters and she spoke no English. She felt like a nobody: frightened, isolated and disempowered. Luz soon discovered that she was not alone. 

In 2011, along with a group of 25 women experiencing similar challenges, Luz began to make and sell crafts around Melbourne. She understood that to support each other is also to strengthen each other. 

SisterWorks Inc. was born in May 2013 when a committee of volunteers joined Luz with legal, fund-raising, marketing and administrative skills to give support and structure to the project.

    Who we are

    SisterWorks is a not-for-profit social enterprise, based in Melbourne.

    Through work and entrepreneurship, SisterWorks’ mission is to support women who are refugees, asylum seekers or migrants so they can improve their confidence, mental wellbeing, sense of belonging and economic outlook.

    Our vision is an Australia where all migrant women are given the opportunities to become economically empowered.

    Work Empowers Women - Our Model

    Our Solution – Our Model: Work Empowers Women.

    The SisterWorks Model is open to women of all skill levels. Our unique model is centred around empowerment, fostering a sense of independence and providing opportunities. SisterWorks brings together three key elements:

    • Learning by Doing. SisterWorks engages migrant and refugee women in different roles in the organisation: as participants, entrepreneurs, volunteers or staff members. They learn by doing about how to work in Australia – by working and doing business together, within a supportive network and child-friendly environment.
    • Community. SisterWorks recognises and teaches the importance of community and the power of camaraderie amongst women. SisterWorks supports and uplifts its members to regain their ‘personal voice’ in Australia.
    • Financial Incentives. SisterWorks shows women that they can add value and earn money, despite the barriers they have faced in gaining employment. This improves the women’s confidence in their skills and abilities. SisterWorks encourages women to explore options to earn money. This takes two forms: women are paid to produce SisterWorks Label products whilst they learn new skills; and business mentoring to establish a micro-business. SisterWorks provides established platforms (retail stores and online) to sell those products.
    Together we are strong - Present and Future Plans

    To date, we have supported more than 492 women from 56 different countries. To increase the number of migrant and refugee women empowered to access opportunities in the workforce, SisterWorks is starting to share its model into other Victorian regions. New partners and Sisters are joining our SisterWorks family in Dandenong, Bendigo and Carringbush.

    Translate »