Celebrating 25 years of the Next Step Centre for Women
CPIT’s Next Step Centre for Women (NSC) celebrated Suffrage Day on 19 September with the launch of Brave Enough to Wear Red Stockings, an anthology of stories from the centre’s 25 year history.
The collection, designed by CPIT Art & Design students, explores women’s progress after attending the centre’s short courses, which are designed to build women’s confidence and offer options for work and study.
“When life doesn’t go as you planned, it can be really hard to pick yourself up and carry on. At the Next Step Centre we help women to go one better – to not just carry on but really discover where they want their lives to go to and to fulfil their potential,” NSC director Gillian Rose said.
“It is amazing to think of all the women who have made the decision to improve their lives and have walked through our door – from all sorts of backgrounds. Though we give them the tools, a supportive community and the space to explore options, they do the work to get where they want to go. That is the inspiring part.”
The centre’s supportive approach and the practical content of the courses is empowering according to the women who shared their stories in Brave Enough to Wear Red Stockings. Their gratitude to the centre for the new opportunities they have discovered shines through their contributions.
Lynda Clegg said the centre “ignited a love of learning”.
“It definitely demystified anything about re-entering education at any level, whether that was going back to school or carrying on in to tertiary,” she said.
After earning several diplomas and more confidence in using computers, Lynda now promotes the centre as part of her work with the marketing team of CPIT. Being able to speak from personal experience is an advantage.
“[The centre] changes women’s views about what they can achieve, personally as well as in their professional life. It not only changes the lives of women that come here, it changes the people around them, their families and their community. We’re so fortunate that CPIT has enabled the NSC to be here.”
Former NSC student Jan Carter visits once a semester to conduct career planning workshops.
Career Counsellor Jan Carter is one of the many women who have attended courses at CPIT’s Next Step Centre for Women and one of the 25 women featured in the centre’s 25th anniversary book Brave Enough to Wear Red Stockings.
“So I’d say doing this course introduced me to lots of ideas and opportunities that I most probably would have never have even looked at on my own because they were outside of my experiences. As a Career Counsellor I come in once a term to New Outlook [programme] and I do a career planning workshop and I always weave in my own story. I hope it’s kind of inspirational for them.”
Leisha Sharapoff retrained as a social worker and has also been a guest speaker at NSC. “It’s a really good feeling, it’s great for my confidence and my self-esteem to be able to come back and share that. Because I know where the students are at - I’ve been there, I’ve felt that, and look at me now. I’m really proud of myself, you know, I busted my butt to get where I am today.
“I do owe a whole heap to the Next Step Centre. If I hadn’t got that direction and that reinforcement here, who knows where I would have ended up…”
Copies of “Brave Enough to Wear Red Stockings: Celebrating 25 years of the Next Step Centre for Women, CPIT” are available.