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Career Change Creates Social Connections for Merrissa

When Merrissa was unemployed and seeking a job in retail, she feared that her age would work against her. After working with Workskil Australia she gained employment at Bunnings and is loving the role.


At 42 years old, the Adnyamathanha woman felt she would be overlooked for younger job seekers when applying for a customer service position.

Adding to her stress was a sense of social isolation having only recently returned to her home state of South Australia with her young son after living in Queensland for 30 years.

“I had previously worked in aged care but I was wanting a career change,” Merrissa said.

“I was keen to try something new and be in a workplace where I could meet new people every day. However, I felt my age and lack of experience in retail would make it all too hard.”

“I also didn’t know a lot of people when I first arrived back in Adelaide.”

“Those six months without a job and without a strong social network were really tough on my mental health.”

With the help of Workskil Australia, Merrissa has made a successful career transition and is building her social connections.

She has a job at Bunnings in a customer-facing role she loves.

“When I got the call to say I had the job, it felt like all my stress just melted away,” she said.

“I’m now working in the nursery section where I get to meet customers every day, work with great people and be surrounded by plants.”

“My team has a few people of similar age to me and a few younger ones as well as people from different cultures. I just love the whole atmosphere.”

Unfortunately, Merrissa’s positive experience is not one shared among all female job seekers in Australia.

Workskil Australia’s Work Watch report for March 2023 found that women over the age of 30, both First Nations and Non-First Nations, are 16% more likely to rely upon unemployment benefits than men.

The report also showed First Nations Australians represent 3.8% of Australia’s population but 20% of the number of people who receive unemployment benefits.

Workskil Australia has a dedicated team for First Nations recruitment including account managers and mentors located across Australia providing a range of free services to help large and small employers from a variety of industry sectors source First Nations staff.

According to Merrissa, the support she continues to receive along her employment journey is invaluable.

“My career transition turned out a lot easier than I expected,” she said.

“Workskil Australia was really supportive and helped me in applying for the job and putting together my resume.”

“Everyone at Bunnings was so welcoming and I’m learning new skills all the time.”

“I have flexibility in my shifts to help with my family responsibilities and I’ve joined the work social club where I get to meet more of my fellow teammates and build new friendships.”

“Being employed, connected with a group of people and socialising again is a great feeling.”

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