After connecting with Jobs Victoria, Debra McShane secured a job, found a place to live and got back on her feet.

A photo of Debra wearing a high-visibility vest, work mask and ear protection as she works in a warehouse holding a drill.

Debra at work at Southern Star Windows in Geelong making windows and doors.

Early last year, Debra McShane had hit rock bottom.

Her marriage had failed and, after a short, ill-fated relationship, she found herself drinking too much, unemployed, homeless and living in her car with two dogs.

It was an impossible situation. Debra, 54, had a strong work history but with no place to live she couldn’t find a job, and without a job she couldn’t find a place to live.

“I lost track of how many jobs I was knocked back for,” Debra says. “At the same time, I was applying for rentals but I had to put down ‘no fixed address’ and people don’t want to know people with no fixed address.”

Debra connected with Jobs Victoria Partner Qualify in Ballarat and everything turned around.

“Paul from Qualify was so understanding he put me right at ease. He knew for me to be able to get back on my feet and find accommodation I needed a job,” Debra says. “Because he knew so many people, he was able to get my name out there. He helped me update my CV and shared it around to his network.”

With the extra support, Debra secured a short-term job and found a place to live, before Qualify recommended her for a full-time permanent role. She now lives on a rural property between Ballarat and Melton, commuting each day to make windows and doors at Southern Star Windows in Geelong.

For the first time in her life, Debra has job security and good employment conditions, including holiday and sick leave and superannuation. Recently, she chalked up a year on the job and was rewarded with a free pair of boots.

“I love it. I’m the only female in my section and I give the boys hell,” she says.

“It can be hard for women to get a job … but I can do the job as well as any of the blokes, plus more.”

“I feel absolutely fantastic, I have so much more self-esteem, my health is so much better because I’m able to eat properly and I can relax of a night. Before I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from or where I was going to park the car to keep us safe.

“Now everything is just totally upside down. I love where I live. I love where I work. I’ve got my life back and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Jobs Victoria can help you navigate your path back to work. Find out more about job and training opportunities.