Technicolour quilts sewing a path to financial freedom

Bolts of bright and spotty quilting material are stacked along the walls of a room in Vanessa Jasperā€™s house, a green table sitting in the centre.

This is where the single mother-of-two is setting up her own business to bring new life to the dying art of quilting and share the power of creativity with others.

ā€œThereā€™s a lot of slow stitching to it, which gives me the opportunity to calm, just reflect and sit,ā€ Ms Jasper told AAP from her house in Bendigo, Victoria.

ā€œThe rhythm of the stitching gives you that time every day to be able to slow down and look after your own mental health.ā€

Her business Green Table Studio, which sells fabric and offers advice on modern and improvised quilting, was born out of online workshops run by the Global Sisters charity during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Global Sisters works with women across Australia to break down structural barriers to employment and improve their financial situations through business education and coaching.

The not-for-profit this month received support from corporate donors and the NSW government for its new program Solo Mums in Business, designed for single mothers who receive parenting payments.

The three-year program hopes to give free business support to 300 women, helping them create flexible incomes through self-employment.

ā€œItā€™s incredibly difficult for solo mums to access flexible, secure and sustained employment when they are juggling family life, ā€ the charityā€™s chief executive Mandy Richards said.

ā€œThe more traditional and full-time employment opportunities are largely out of reach, leaving them to navigate options that are generally casual, unstable and short-term by nature.

ā€œAs a result, women who are solo parenting are more likely to circle back to social security payments by necessity of their circumstances.ā€

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statisticsā€™ 2022 Labour Force Status of Families showed 83 per cent of one-parent households with children and dependents were single-mother families.

In one-parent families with children aged 15 and under, 67 per cent of single mothers were employed compared with 75 per cent of single fathers.

Ms Jasper said the charityā€™s programs helped her come up with a five-year plan to expand her business and diversify her income as her sons get older.

ā€œBeing a single parent can be quite isolating ā€¦ so I saw it as a fantastic opportunity,ā€ she said.

ā€œIt just kept me inspired.ā€


Stephanie Gardiner
(Australian Associated Press)


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