Helping job seekers dress to impress

Two ladies place clothes in a box

For unemployed people the cost of interview-appropriate clothes can be a barrier to landing a new job. Canberra charity Communities@Work helps change wardrobes and outcomes for job seekers.

The Department of Human Services has finished a month-long clothing drive in partnership with Communities@Work to collect more than 2,000 pre-loved, good quality, professional clothing items to help job seekers in financial hardship.

Communities@Work CEO Lynne Harwood explained while many people may think that the Canberra community enjoys a high standard of living, there’s a hidden sector of our society experiencing significant hardship.

“Individuals are judged on appearances, and often looking the part is a crucial component to landing a job or being able to be taken seriously in a meeting,” Ms Harwood said.

“Over the past few years, demand for our services has increased in areas such as Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, so everyone’s help is needed now more than ever.”

Susan Cartwright, National Manager in the department, organised the clothing drive, placing donation bins throughout corporate offices in Canberra.

“People are told to dress for the job they want, but for some people there isn’t enough money to cover living expenses, let alone purchase a work outfit to wear to a job interview or to start work,” Ms Cartwright said.

“We’ve run clothing drives in the past for Communities@Work and staff have continued to get behind the cause, so I had a feeling this year would be no exception.”

For the department’s Secretary Kathryn Campbell, the impressive response from her staff was a demonstration of their passion for helping those less fortunate.

“The generosity of our staff not only reflects their professional commitment to providing essential payments and services, but also the personal contributions they make to their communities,” Ms Campbell said.

“We’re a large department but one made up of incredibly dedicated and caring individuals.”

Communities@Work CEO Lynne Harwood said the donations can be potentially life-changing.

“The clothing we received from this drive has the potential to fundamentally change the circumstances of a Communities@Work client, from being dependent on welfare to being employed, empowered and self-sufficient,” Ms Harwood said.

“We’re very grateful for the strong partnership we have with the department because it definitely helps us provide essential services to our clients.”

More information

For more information and to donate to Communities@Work visit: