“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Impact100 Sydney for making this small, gritty program possible. It really is providing the most amazing and practical opportunities to change girls’ lives.
We were thrilled to receive the first grant of $100,000 and hope the results of our program truly show that models such as this can genuinely make a difference."
- Roxanne McMurray AM
We were thrilled to celebrate International Women's Day this week with a special breakfast event in partnership with SmartWomen Connect and JBWere. The guest speaker was Roxanne McMurray of Leichhardt Women's Community Health Centre (LWCHC), who inspired the audience by sharing the success of the 2017 grant-winning project, 'Empowering Girls to Grow' or EGG.
This is an edited extract of her address:
‘Empowering Girls to Grow’ was created to help a group of girls who are often put in the ‘too hard basket’ – girls who are seen as not ready or too troubled for mainstream career and mentoring programs.
They are girls aged 13-17 years who can’t live at home due to domestic violence, sexual abuse, neglect, their parents’ drug addiction, and family breakdown. Some have been removed from their families by the Department of Family and Community Services, other girls are rescued from forced child marriage or trafficking and brought to the refuge by the Federal Police.
In some cases girls as young as 13 and 14 have their identities protected, with name changes and hidden enrolments at school to protect them from their families.
They don’t have family and role models they can look up to, or extended family networks that create happy experiences and help out with the general business of ‘growing up’.
My colleagues and I had known there was a need for a specific program for these girls for some time, but we didn’t have the capacity to create and deliver it – until we heard about Impact100 Sydney and the $100,000 grant on offer, which has now provided 100% of the funding for our program for two years.
So how does it work? EGG aims to put 20 girls a year (40 in total over two years) through a 10-step program. Each girl is matched one-on-one with a mentor in the career of their choice, providing on-the-job work experience and support with CV preparation.
When designing the program, it became obvious that while there were other mentoring programs, none had a targeted training and work-readiness, gender-specific approach for highly disadvantaged young women. To truly engage these girls it would need to be tailored and offer more than the opportunity to meet their mentor for a coffee and chat.
We really believe that the number one factor that will get young girls in refuges out of their current circumstances and into better lives is stability – stable housing – and stable housing comes from stable employment. Education, a healthy self-esteem and connections lay the foundation for employment. So that was our thinking and our goal, and I’m proud to say we are seeing amazing results.
The Impact100 Sydney grant enabled us to employ a part-time coordinator to run the program and ensure it was structured and well organised. 12 girls have now been through the program, and we are on track to reach our target of 20 by the end of June.
And the results?
· All have been offered to continue working with their mentor, either as a volunteer or paid.
· Three have joined Taronga Zoo’s selective 'Youth at the Zoo' volunteering program and are helping zoo keepers, are welcoming members of the public and working on reception.
· 70% have paid part time employment as a result of the program
· All of the girls who’ve completed the program have stayed in school, despite being very shaky when they started
· And all said they are clearer about what they want to do when they leave school, two of them changing from their original careers.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Impact100 Sydney for making this small, gritty program possible. It really is providing the most amazing and practical opportunities to change girls’ lives, and in its own way, to #pressforprogress.
It’s a delight to celebrate International Women’s Day with all of you, and everyone involved with Impact100 Sydney. Without your fantastic support and enthusiasm, this program would not exist.
Want to be part of the movement that is making programs like this possible?