StepUp with FICE – a program for vulnerable women in Melbourne’s outer east

Cire Services Inc. - First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE)

Supported beneficiary groups within Women & Girls
Age Demographic
Adults - aged 25 to under 65
Project Focus
Project Area

Project Description

Cire’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) Program wants to deliver weekly workshops & 1:1 mentoring, to assist women to enhance their employability, pathways to training, greater financial security & gender equality.

Based at Lilydale in Melbourne’s outer east, StepUp with FICE will draw on & be informed by FICE’s grassroots work with long-term unemployed & vulnerable women in the region, with the support of established networks. These women experience overlapping discrimination/disadvantage & face complex barriers & increased risk of falling through the cracks of support.

Cire witnesses how participants fall through such cracks/deemed ineligible because of them. Employment Plus has reported 70 long term unemployed (LTU) women registered at Lilydale; 120 at Ringwood which is within our catchment.

FICE empowers participants through a wrap-around approach involving education/upskilling/ mentoring/personal development/h&s-on work experience in a safe, non-judgemental, supportive environment.

StepUp includes:

  • Weekly 1:1 mentoring
  • Weekly 3 hour workshops comprising:
    • personal, work & study goal-setting
    • pathways/action plans
    • work upskilling/development, including micro-credentials
  • Hands-on retail experience at FICE’s stores
  • Opportunity for ongoing volunteering to further develop transferable skills
  • Local networking opportunities for participants to build skills & increase community participation.


The $20,00 grant request would cover:

  • Program coordinator $50 per hour x 5 hours per week x 10 weeks x 4 terms = $10000
  • Program manager/supervision $50 per hour x 2 hours per week x 10 weeks x 4 terms = $4000
  • Networking time = $50 per hour x 5 hours per term x 4 terms = $1500
  • Marketing = $2500 including newspaper advertising
  • Resources and materials = $1500; Morning/afternoon tea = $500

Expected Outcomes

Cire’s FICE empowers vulnerable women to be their best selves to engage meaningfully in community life & employment, instilling & community connectedness & belonging, & equips women to achieve financial independence.

We wish to extend our reach & impact to serve more women through our proposed StepUp program of workshops, mentoring & workplace experience that will:

  • upskill through micro-credentials
  • improve job-readiness through employability & job skills workshops
  • include goal setting & pathway mapping
  • increase confidence & self-worth, leading to improved mental health & capacity
  • improve mental health, foster friendships & increase community connectedness


Highlighting the vulnerability of women in the Yarra Ranges LGA & the relevance of FICE's wrap-around approach, are the following 2021 Census statistics:

  • 6,465 single parent families, 78.3% (5,062) of whom are single mothers
  • 2,793 single parent families in the Yarra Ranges live below the poverty line
  • 57% of unpaid childcare was provided by women
  • 22,030 women provided unpaid childcare
  • 60.9% of unpaid assistance provided to someone with a disability, health condition or due to old age was provided by women
  • 11,441 women provided unpaid assistance to someone with a disability, health condition or due to old age
  • 1,425 women looking for work
  • 150 single mothers looking for work, accounting for 87.2% of single parents looking for work

Project Data & Lessons

We are proud of our reputation for ongoing consultation with participants to ensure our programs address the diverse needs of the community & are delivered effectively. Project data will be collected through:

  • Pre-program moderation, verification & auditing
  • Post-program evaluation, self-assessment & learnings
  • Feedback from participants & partners at key points:
    • Program commencement
    • Throughout program delivery
    • Immediately after program completion
    • 3 months after program completion
    • 6 months after program completion


Participant goal setting will establish personal pathways & action plans & will occur in a pre-intake interview. Action plans & goals will be reviewed at key point, as outlined above, allowing participants to evaluate personal progress, assisting in data collection & analysis, gauge program success & enable FICE to report effectively on participant & program outcomes.

Partners will further contribute to the program evaluation process through workshops & forums.

Lessons & learnings through the evaluation process will be translated into changes for next iteration of the program.

Project Dates

Subject to funding support for a 12 months we can commence our project in Term 4, 2023 or Term 1 2024 for four terms.

Funding Details

Funding Needed
Current Funding
Total Project Costs
Approved Tax Deductability Status
Approved Tax Concession Charity
Other Funding Sources
The currently funded portion/commitment is Cire in-kind ie room hire for the program for 12 months ($6,000); $20 FICE vouchers for 40 participants ie 10 participants per term = $800; donated pamper packs valued @ $100 each x 40 participants = $3,200. Total in-kind = $10,000. In addition the volunteer hours to support the program = approx. 800 hours at recognised value of $41.70 per hour = $33,360.
Other Support Opportunities
Other, Pro bono services
Other Forms of Support
Ideally FICE would love to have an ongoing sponsor/philanthropic partner/champion

Organisation Details

Cire Services Inc. - First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE)
ABN: 51933700538


Andy Popkiss (They/Them)
Phone: 0401800050

About Cire Services Inc. - First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE)

Cire Services Inc. is one of the largest and most reputable NFPs in the Yarra Ranges with an increasing presence in other LGAs including the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire. A registered charity and unique to the Yarra Ranges, we provide flexible learning opportunities, education and training and a depth and breadth of innovative community programs and services to help meet the needs of, and empower, all those within our reach.

We are committed to connecting people of all ages, interests and backgrounds, providing lifelong learning opportunities and supporting communities to identify and address their own needs. Our goal is to help individuals be their best, particularly those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage and marginalisation, and in doing so, help strengthen families and communities.

Since commencing as Upper Yarra Community House in 1976, Cire has expanded enormously to meet local needs through its core services of Cire Training, our award-winning Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and including First Impression Clothing Exchange (FICE) Program for vulnerable women; Community School for at-risk youth; Cire Early Learning; and Cire Community Hubs.

Employing approx. 260 people, we operate through outreach and at sites in Lilydale, Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn, Chirnside Park, and Badger Creek in the Yarra Ranges; Berwick in the City of Casey and Pakenham in Cardinia Shire.

90%+ of our revenue is in tied gov’t funding. We rely on grants to fund programs.

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Cire Services Inc. - First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE)

StepUp with FICE - a program for vulnerable women in Melbourne's outer east

Cire’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) Program wants to deliver weekly workshops & 1:1 mentoring, to assist women to enhance their employability, pathways to training, greater financial security & gender equality.