Connecting to community through self-employment

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Self-Employment – Building Community Connections

This story was first published on Wednesday 1 March 2023. If you wish to use this content, please contact media@dewr.gov.au to confirm that the information is still current.

With the help of Workforce Australia – Self-Employment Assistance and My Pathway, Sharon and Natasha were able to lift their dream business off the ground and support their community.

Sharon and Natasha Watkins are Aranda women who have deep connections to the country and community. They are the proud owners of Tjinatjarra, a local business in Alice Springs that provides administration services and support programs. Tjinatjarra is from the Western Aranda language – ‘tjina’ is family and ‘tjarra’ is ‘many in unity and strong relationship’.

“As newly self–employed business owners it’s like navigating through new uncharted territory, and it is nerve wracking and exciting at the same time”
Sharon and Natasha

Sharon and Natasha had spent 3 years trying to start their business and connect with like-minded individuals. Their vision was to provide a safe space for women to gather and feel like they belong, while providing care and support so they can be empowered to heal and to share their stories with others.

My Pathway helped Sharon and Natasha participate in Self-Employment Assistance to start their self-employment journey. The program provided Sharon and Natasha with support and mentorship to broaden their connections and bring their goals and visions to life. Through the program, they were also able to complete a Business and Financial Development Plan, commence a Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business, attend workshops and complete modules at their own pace, as well as ongoing assistance from their small business mentor.

“… when you collaborate with experienced people with the right intentions to guide you, it allows breathing space and reassurance that we can achieve running a small business with the assistance and guidance from the mentors and our own aptitude, hard work and determination.”

Currently, Tjinatjarra has active National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) clients and various programs designed to build confidence to become leaders and mentors in the community. They provide advocacy services, acting as a cultural facilitator to assist individuals navigate the NDIS and healthcare system. Tjinatjarra also offers podcast workshops in partnership with local Alice Springs company ‘Ehh! Look out Media’, where participants develop a series of podcasts on their topic of choice and learn about sharing stories while acquiring new skills.

“We highly recommend accessing the Self-Employment Assistance program, as this is an important channel for your business and yourself to evolve with their professional mentoring, knowledge, connections and many other resources that is relevant to be successful …. This program is really a conduit for people to ignite their passion, vision, and to have the longevity of success for their business.”

Sharon and Natasha recently announced they will be running a 6-month art program that will conclude with an art exhibition. They are constantly developing tailored programs and seeking opportunities to elevate their business and support their local community.

More information

Have a business idea but don’t know where to start? Looking to improve your business but need advice and guidance? Make sure you check out the following FREE support provided by Workforce Australia – Self-Employment Services:

Correct at time of publication.