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Social enterprise designed by survivors proves its mettle

15 March 2023 at 4:35 pm
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
A social enterprise and charity co-designed with survivors of domestic and family violence has a perfect track record for stopping women returning to abuse or homelessness.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 15 March 2023 at 4:35 pm


Social enterprise designed by survivors proves its mettle
15 March 2023 at 4:35 pm

A social enterprise and charity co-designed with survivors of domestic and family violence has a perfect track record for stopping women returning to abuse or homelessness.

Let this sink in: one in four Australian women have experienced violence by an intimate partner or family member since the age of 15. The majority (41 per cent) of those seeking help from specialist homelessness services, such as crisis shelters, are women escaping abuse.

Without appropriate pathways, these alarming statistics compound a grave trend: women commonly return to their violent perpetrators. This is in large part due to the inability for women to access safe accommodation or sufficient financial resources. 

While the government pledges to end violence against women within a generation, for-purpose organisations are addressing more immediate and at times life-threatening needs, and yielding promising results.

Take social enterprise and charity Mettle, a national gift delivery service staffed by women residing in refuge, which has a “100 per cent success rate” for stopping women returning to their perpetrators or becoming homeless.

“Very often [women returned to violent homes] because they didn’t know how to access work that was safe enough for them, because being in the public was a genuine risk to their safety,” Mettle’s co-founder and CEO Bronwyn Bate told Pro Bono News. 

“Every single one of the women that we’ve graduated from our program is still, three years after leaving our program, residing in their own safe private accommodation, meaning that we’ve had a 100 per cent success rate.”

Creating safer futures

Mettle runs a six-month paid employment program for women experiencing homelessness due to domestic and family violence, supporting them to enter the workforce safely and sustainably. 

Participants are referred to the program by partnering refuges and shelters across Western Australia, and work in the organisation’s confidentially-located warehouse, manufacturing, fulfilling and dispatching gift boxes.

So far, 33 women have been inducted into the employment program, while around 50 have taken part in Mettle’s employment readiness workshops, which are offered externally in refuges.

Tiffany Breuil had fled her abusive ex-husband and was residing in crisis accommodation with her daughter when she was offered the opportunity to participate in Mettle’s employment program. 

Over the past three years, Breuil has rebuilt her life, turning her participation in the program into a permanent full-time position managing Mettle’s dispatch room. If it weren’t for Mettle, Breuil said she “would have probably ended up going back” to her ex-husband.

“It has really changed my financial situation,” Breuil told Pro Bono News. “I wasn’t allowed to get my licence or a car when I was with my partner. I got my licence, and then I could buy a car and I actually recently bought my first house as well.

“[Mettle] was really understanding with my situation. They don’t only help you with getting money or a safer future, they also have another worker that helps you find another job if you want to. They have access to psychologists and they’re very flexible as well if you have kids.”

The co-design process

In addition to its employment program, Mettle provides educational scholarships, childcare subsidies and crisis funds for women who are ineligible for government support, and employs a social worker to support participants.

This extensive offering is the result of a rigorous co-design process with survivors of domestic and family violence, which continues to evolve as more women engage with Mettle.

Bate, who has experience working in women’s shelters and across the not-for-profit sector, said she spent a year interviewing women around Australia “to just try and understand the gravity of this situation”.

“With their support, we co-designed Mettle,” she said. 

“They had permission to tear the ideas apart, and then rebuild them by contributing their feedback based on their unique experience. 

“You owe it to the people that you’re existing to support to factor their experiences into the business model, even if that means tearing apart what you originally thought might be best.”

Mettle is largely kept afloat by the revenue generated from its gift boxes, which include local and ethical products, while philanthropy from the likes of AMP Foundation’s Tomorrow Fund and Decjuba Foundation allows the organisation to scale its programs and continue to elevate its offering.

This includes the launch of a digital version of its employment program, which is set to reach 600 women per year, as well as working with organisations to ensure workplaces are safe for survivors of domestic and family violence – two key objectives for Mettle’s year ahead. 

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at

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