Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

St Kilda Gatehouse

St Kilda Gatehouse

St Kilda Gatehouse logo.jpg

Working alongside those involved in street-based sex work as a result of abuse, addiction, poverty and other hardships.

St Kilda Gatehouse works alongside those involved in street-based sex work as a result of family violence, addiction, homelessness, poverty, mental health and social isolation. They provide emergency aid, counselling, advocacy, outreach and links into other services and programs, as well as mentoring to these young women and girls.

2017 Pitch
Funds raised: $26,900

St Kilda Gatehouse raised $26,900 at TFN Live in Melbourne. The funds raised will enable them to build a boutique shop called Greeves St. Boutique, which will include a client and community social inclusion hub. Women, as they attempt to leave street-based sex work and all the associated hardships such as addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, mental illness and poverty, will be able to undergo a formal volunteer and retail-training program through the Greeves St. Boutique, as well as sell their own craft product. 

The impact…

The stigma attached to working in street-based sex work is so great, that women are more comfortable disclosing drug addiction and time in prison. In fact, street-based sex workers are over 20 times more likely to go to jail. And, while most people will experience just a few traumatic events in their lives, sex workers are likely to experienced over 20 such event. This, coupled with issues of homelessness and drug use, means that it’s much more complex than simply being an employment issue. There are various and complex reasons women find themselves engaging in street-based sex work, however they all face the same barriers when leaving it.

For women leaving street-based sex work, lack of job skills, confidence, accommodation and the stigma they carry around with them means it can be difficult in transitioning to mainstream employment. Especially when they are dealing with other issues as well, and this is what makes the Greeves St Boutique Op Shop unique. This shop provides employment training, sewing circles and paid work to women leaving street-based sex work and more importantly, it provides a stable and friendly place for them to meet and connect. Since the event and thanks to the funding raised, the shop has gone from strength to strength. It has increased its customers and donor base, it can now deliver some employment training modules online and the profits are providing financial stability for St Kilda Gatehouse. Most importantly, it is changing the lives of some of Australia’s most marginalised and vulnerable women. 


“I first met Sammy when she cold-called me about joining the sewing program. She was so well spoken, I actually thought she might be a journalist wanting an inside story. But no, it turned out Sammy had left addiction and street work behind more than a decade ago, but had struggled to fit into regular society ever since. She began attending our sewing group, graduated, and continued attending whilst developing her own line of product to sell in the shop. She also began to volunteer in the shop, all the time gaining confidence and skills. Because we received funding to employ casual staff on Sundays from The Funding Network, we were able to offer Sammy casual weekend employment. She now runs a team of volunteers and oversees the shop management on a rotating weekend roster. Because of the initial funding from TFN, and our success in employing Sammy, we are now looking to employ another Sewing Group graduate with a background in street work, who has also actively volunteered in the Greeves St. Boutique Op Shop.” - Andie Patchett, Community Development and Social Enterprise, St Kilda Gatehouse.

Read their Impact Report

2014 Pitch
Funds raised: $30,200

The Gatehouse pitched at TFN event Melbourne held in partnership with Australian Communities on 29 July 2014. Their aim was to support the employment of a Therapeutic Support Worker for their Young Women’s Project. The project targets young women aged 12 - 25 years old who are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation as an corollary of childhood trauma, abuse, family breakdown and poverty - and who lack traditional support and diversion.

The impact...

"She's someone 's sister... mother... daughter....wife..."

Working alongside those involved in street-based sex work or affected by sexual exploitation as a result of hardship, St Kilda Gatehouse prioritises dignity and hope over judgment and ignominy. The Gatehouse seeks to humanise the women who access its services while offering a safe haven from which individuals can address the underlying trauma of family violence, drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, mental health and social isolation. 

The Gatehouse raised $30,200 at TFN Melbourne live crowdfunding event and receive a subsequent donation of $6000: this new service now supports 18 young women, with figures expected to rise to 50 over the next 12 months.

Individual contacts made through the event also donated personal products and supplies that can be passed on to women who access the Gatehouse services and there is a product wish list maintained on its website. The Gatehouse is always happy to receive clothes, cosmetics and toiletries, phone cards and footwear – as this story goes to press, requested items include carry bags, food and clothes packaging - and that essential paraphernalia for springtime Melbourne -  umbrellas! 

The Gatehouse found TFN pitch coaching helped strengthen its message but equally important was the response at the event which has been up-cycled into a confidence to ask - and ask again. To be appreciated, understood and remembered, and to be shown unequivocally that these women – regardless of what they do, but who they are - really matter, is oxygen for both the Gatehouse and those 50+ more women who are someone but just don’t know it yet.


Read their Impact Report

Learn more about St Kilda Gatehouse.

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