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The 100 Women Advisory Board is delighted to inform our members that this project is now officially complete!  We are also keen to share some of its positive outcomes with you, demonstrating the impact that your membership with 100 Women is having on the lives of women and children in Australia.

But first, a message from Telethon Kids Institute to 100 Women Members:

“The vision of 100 Women is inspiring! We are so grateful to the members’ support of our project over the past two years. It truly has made a difference to the lives of the women involved in the capacity building project. Thank you especially for the opportunities provided to share our work with the wider 100 Women community at both the grant awards evening and education connect events. Thank you once again for your generous support”    

This project is grounded in a long-standing engagement of researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) with Aboriginal communities in the Fitzroy Valley of Western Australia.  In this remote and vast area, chronic oversupply and overuse of alcohol created serious health impacts including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a condition that can lead to poor educational and social outcomes as children struggle to cope with the demands of school and community life. Through an intervention research study called the Alert Program®, which aims to improve self-regulation and executive functioning in children with FASD, researchers at TKI had seen that with support, women could create positive change in their communities.

As such, this project was designed with a twofold objective: providing education and employment for Aboriginal women from selected remote Fitzroy Valley Aboriginal communities, whilst simultaneously increasing the women’s understanding of the Alert Program®. To achieve this objective, TKI facilitated the enrolment of six women into a Certificate II in Community Services course at North Regional TAFE.  In addition, the women received employment and training from Telethon Kids Institute to become community researchers on the Alert Program®.

Of the six women enrolled in the course, two completed the Certificate II in Community Services. The remaining four completed multiple units of competency towards their Certificate II and are continuing with their studies.  All six women participated in a trip to Telethon Kids Institute in Perth as part of their training to become community researchers on The Alert Program®

 

The Community Researcher trip to Perth had a packed agenda, in particular providing the participants with an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the work Telethon Kids Institute is doing through the Alert Program®.  Some highlights included meeting with Institute Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis (AM), a lunch and learn session with research team members, an on-country walk at Piney Lakes to learn about Noongar women’s cultural practices and discussions with Telethon Kids Institute’s Aboriginal Research coordinators about future training options and professional development needs of Aboriginal community researchers.

A highlight for 100 Women was the opportunity for Board Members Kristy, Carol, and Michelle to meet with the participants and hear more about the challenges they face living in the Fitzroy Crossing region, whilst also sharing ideas on ways to overcome some of these challenges.  All this followed by a delicious afternoon tea of freshly baked damper.

The combination of the TAFE course and Telethon’s employment of the women as community researchers has helped to build the women’s confidence in numerous ways, including using English in a range of unfamiliar situations; interpersonal support for other women within their community; understanding issues impacting their community; increased opportunities to contribute to discussions and make decisions relating to research activities happening in their community and increased knowledge and skill relating to general work readiness.

Some feedback from the women when asked “what have you enjoyed about the project”?

 “I like working with children and helping them do good in school, also parents” 

“It help me get my certificate and knowing other things in the work place. What my rights are in work and how people should work in the workplace, help me learn a lot. All finished now and I thank the ladies for putting me through the course. Gave me better understanding why people keep doing research to help the kids.”

“It’s good to be near kids to help them” 

“I like working with kids and parents” 

“I could learn more about working with kids in our school who has FASD and how can we help them”

It is worth noting that the original grant of $39,450 was intended to fund enrolment in the Certificate II for ten Aboriginal women.  Unfortunately, due to personal, community and cultural reasons, four of the original women were unable to attend the course.  In addition to this, the course provider was changed, creating a considerable cost saving. In total, a significant underspend of $26,211 was returned to 100 Women and added to this year’s grant pool – allowing even more important work to be done to support women and children around the world.

Carol Yiannopoulos & Michelle Emmett

100 Women Advisory Board

 

 

 

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In 2016 the Girls From Oz (G-Oz) project “Our Song” was chosen by 100 Women members to receive one of the 3 grants awarded that year. In December 2017, as many members will remember we were treated to a fabulous performance by the G-Oz girls at our Gala celebration. We can now formally declare this grant to be fully expended and would like to share some of the highlights, surprises, and firsthand feedback about this project.

Despite public performance being a major hurdle for many of these young girls, 28 highly confident young performers presented six songs (including “I am Australian” in language) and two dances at G-Oz’s first public performance in Halls Creek. Four girls introduced items using speaking parts they wrote themselves. Family and friends were there to listen and congratulate the girls afterwards, these were some of the comments from the girls the day after their performance.

“My name is Chloe and I love G-Oz because we get to learn new dances and songs and when I did the performance my mum, my dad and my two little brothers came to watch me. And after that performance my dad said that he was so proud of me that I did it”

“Hi my name is Tahlia and I like Girls from Oz because they’re nice and caring. I like G-Oz because they teach us lots of dances, like the “unique” dance that we performed yesterday. My mum said that she was really proud of all of the girls that did it”.

“Hi my name is Tahnee and I love G-Oz because yesterday’s performance was awesome”

“Hi my name is Heidi, I love G-Oz because I felt proud when we done the performance yesterday”

“Hi, my name is Shondean and I love G-Oz because they are helpful and we learn songs from them and dance a lot with them. I felt proud of the performance yesterday. I felt like embarrassing then I felt proud of myself and the performance”

“My name is Emma and I like G-Oz because, they teach us the “Unique” dance and we got to perform all the songs and dances yesterday. And the best part of it was “Unique” because we only learnt it this week and we got it right”.

What wonderful feedback from the girls, however it is not just the girls from Halls Creek that benefited from the “Our Song” project. 295 participants from Halls Creek District High School and Little Nuggets Early Learning Centre were involved in 104 workshops. 300 people saw the girls perform in Halls Creek and 500 people met some of the girls in Perth and heard them sing in language, including the Governor of WA.

School attendance improved. Confidence in performing in front of people improved and importantly they learnt that if they can perform in front of their own community, they can perform anywhere. G-Oz wrote “Right up until 3 pm on the day of the performance, we didn’t know how many girls would make it from the school to the stage (500 metres). Tears of pride from some of the audience members and parents followed and accolades and congratulations were received from teachers, Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers, and the general community”

Learning the traditional Jaru and Kija language is important for these young girls. To quote one participant when asked “why is your language important to you?” she replied “so you could keep speaking your language fluently because the population is running out”. However, In the first half of the twentieth century aboriginal people were punished if they spoke their traditional language and thus understandably some elders can be wary of sharing with whitefellas.

Despite this, in 2016 G-Oz worked with women from the Kimberley Language Resource Centre in translating “I Am Australian” into Jaru and Kija.  Then in 2017 singer/songwriter Peter Brandy agreed for part of his contemporary song “Kimberley Backroads” to be translated by women from the language centre into Jaru and Kija. To the delight of G-Oz, the women from the language centre also agreed to teach the girls at Halls Creek District High School, the first time they have agreed to work on the school grounds in the nine years that G-Oz has been working in Halls Creek.

As for the future, this year G-Oz will run four week-long performing arts intensives in Halls Creek. In November ten girls will travel to Melbourne and meet up with G-Oz participants from Carnarvon and Lockhart River, the first time the girls from all three towns G-Oz works with will have been brought together. “Our Song” has enabled G-Oz to strengthen relationships with Halls Creek community members and G-Oz plans to meet with the local women and discuss which songs they should next translate and learn.

The “Our Song” project is yet another great example of how collective giving can impact the lives of so many. Thank you to 100 Women members for supporting this fabulous project. Thank you to Girls from Oz for sharing your success with us especially through your performance at our Gala event last year. If you wish to be a to be a catalyst for positive change then check out the 100 Women website and what it means to be a member.

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With your help 100 WOMEN has awarded 13 grants over the last 4 years totalling nearly $400,000. This year, the Advisory Board is committed to sharing the impact of these grants with all of you.

 

To begin with, as four project grants wind down over the coming months, we will share their inspiring impact on both their participants and wider communities. In addition, we will provide you with regular updates about our newest grant recipients: Earbus Foundation, Bower Reuse and Repair Centre, Human & Hope Association, and Youth Futures WA.

 

To kick off the 2018 impact stories, we are pleased to share firsthand testimonials from participants in the 2016 grant awarded to the Telethon Kids Institute, the “Upskilling Aboriginal women to become community leaders” project.

 

Under this project, fourteen Aboriginal women from nine different remote Fitzroy Valley Aboriginal communities have been attending a Certificate II in Community Services course at North Regional TAFE. In addition, they are receiving employment and training from Telethon Kids Institute to become community researchers on a two-year Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) intervention research study, called the Alert Program®. The Alert Program® aims to improve self-regulation and executive functioning in children with FASD, a disorder which can lead to poor educational and social outcomes as children struggle to cope with the demands of school and community life.

 

Specifically, a 100 WOMEN grant of $39,450 funded enrolment in the TAFE course for the women, uniforms, training materials & literacy tuition. In addition, our grant funded the cost of travel and accommodation for some of these women to attend training workshops and cross-cultural knowledge sharing at Telethon Kids Institute.

 

The following testimonials highlight some of the long term benefits this grant has offered for the participants and their communities.

 

What has the 100 Women grant meant to you?

  • “(I) loved how we had the opportunity to go to Perth. I learnt that Telethon is an Institute for all types of research. Training was good and I got to meet everyone else there. It was very interesting to meet with others. Coming from a community to Perth I learnt a lot. We gave questions and got answers and shared our answers to questions.”
  • “TAFE training has been great, I’m learning lots like working with diversity in communities. The course will help me get a job anywhere. Group learning has been great – it’s supportive.”
  • “Well for me I think the course is good like how the lecturer talks to us for how to run our own community. She even told us for different ideas in the community and how we can work together as one as black fellas. For me doing this course give me more good ideas on how we can help each-others as different family groups and getting to know each-others back ground in our community and sharing good ideas in different ways.”

 

What do you like about working on the Alert Program project?

  • “Working with kids and parents”
  • “Learning more about kids with FASD and how can I get these kids to learn and understand more better in the classroom”
  • “I like working on the Alert Program project because I am excited to meet other parents and researchers from the community”
  • “telling people that we have a way in helping children do good in school. Working with different people”

 

What hopes and dreams for the future do you have for children in the Fitzroy Valley?

  • “that all children have a better community to live in and get better in school”
  • “Their education and staying in school so they can have a good future good job”
  • “go to school and learn how to find a job when they get bigger”
  • “live their dream. Go to university, find a good job”
  • “hope all researchers succeed for all children need help”

 

To see the work Telethon Kids Institute are doing on FASD in the Fitzroy Valley, watch this video.

 

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In the fifth part of our blog series on women in leadership we spoke to 100 Women member, Sarah Glenister, Director of Change that Matters.

On graduating from Murdoch University with a Bachelor of Psychology, majoring in Organisational Psychology Sarah had her first role working with autistic adolescents and adults. As she says “It’s not quite organisational psychology but it was a great opportunity to work in a sector I knew very little about.” Sarah returned to uni to complete a Grad Diploma in Education in Guidance & Counselling then spent ten years working part-time in an education/counselling role in a variety of organisations, mostly working with refugees and newly arrived migrants/international students.

In her early 30s, with her 4 children starting school, she increased her paid work and moved to the Department of Health. Over 17 years of service she has been fortunate enough to have many great opportunities in the strategic area including roles in mental health and change management.

Recently Sarah left the public service and is in the process of starting up her own consultancy in Change Management in particular in the social justice area.

What do you believe is the most significant barrier to women in leadership?

Women lead all the time in the workplace although not necessarily in paid leadership roles. Historically women have worked and grouped together in networked social structures rather than command and control, hierarchical structures. In the change space we are more aware of the importance of these networks and the identification of key influencers who aren’t necessarily in the formal leadership roles.

I think the biggest barrier to women in many industries are the number of women seeking these roles. I come from the Health industry which has had a female dominated workforce for a long time, the sheer numbers of women ensure that the leadership positions are often filled by women. So I think the bigger question is how we can encourage women into industries that have not traditionally attracted a balanced gender and how can we get them to stay longer so that they reach those leadership positions.

Women start out strong after university, then other life events happen and women often prioritise those, often, although not always by choice, over their career ambitions. With the bulk of the domestic duties, children and elderly responsibilities the funnel narrows quickly for women or just slows right down.

Conversations around whether you can have it all or inquiries as to how you possibly manage having a family and a career (let alone guilt inducing comments around who picks up the kids from school) have never been levelled at men, only women. While I hear less of this articulated now, there is still an undercurrent. What I do hear more of across both sexes is the concept of a balanced life, and the reluctance to work long hours and sacrifice healthy pursuits, hobbies, travel and family life. I’d like to think this will benefit both women and men and along with the shift away from the hierarchical structures to a more networked approach, will mean it will be an easier system for women to seek leadership positions within.

What are leadership skills all women should learn?

There are a raft of leadership skills that are critical but one that I feel is our greatest weakness is financial literacy. We seemed to have an increase a few years ago of women studying science and maths related subjects like engineering, accounting, IT, statistics etc but these numbers, at least anecdotally, seem to have slowed/plateaued. Apart from the resulting low numbers of women in these industries it impacts on all industries at that higher level. In paid leadership roles a key component is overseeing projects and budgets which require a high level of maths/financial literacy. Too many women that I’ve met opt out here and it is a real weakness.

Other areas including how to handle negotiations, have difficult conversations and take criticism are important leadership skills.

 

What would you like women to be leading?

I think women can and do contribute to all industries. Having women in leadership roles in non female dominant workforces like IT, Banking, Superannuation, Treasury, Police etc will potentially encourage young women to explore these areas.

 

What would change if more women were leaders?

I read something recently about how if you want the status quo challenged then hire a woman, women challenge the status quo because they’ve never been it! Certainly in the corporate world, technology is changing everything. As a result leaders are being more enlightened and certainly being held to account in areas like ensuring supply lines are free from human trafficking and slavery. The area of corporate social responsibility is fast becoming a focus and I think it is a natural fit for many women. It involves challenging the status quo!

 

 

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“Imagine speaking to yourself as you would to someone you love deeply.”

Oriah ‘Mountain Dreamer’ House

 

It’s taken most of my life to even consider this delightful possibility. When I did eventually summon the courage to anticipate the kindness of this suggestion, and listened to the voices with which I used to speak to myself, I was horrified.

 

“You don’t deserve this.”

 

“You think you can do that?”

 

“What makes you think they will like you?”

 

Even worse was the acceptance of other people voicing the same opinions.

 

So, when I wanted to speak up about things that mattered to me, no words would come, whether written or spoken.

 

How did I change this terrible situation?

 

The first thing was to consider Oriah’s kind advice. What would happen if I spoke to myself as if I actually liked myself? Could I actually love myself? After I added the phrase “Well done” to the repertoire of voices in my head, and remembered to listen to that voice sometimes, I was astounded at the difference this made. Such as when I did my very best to support our daughter with the choices she had to make for her university study options, enjoying her delight in aiming high and achieving beyond her expectations, and telling myself “Well done” while telling her the same. We both glowed.

 

After this small first step, I discovered a pattern in how I spoke to myself, how I spoke to others and how I accepted others speaking to me. If I dared to speak about things that mattered to me, and other people spoke unkindly in return, my “unkind” voices threatened to return. I learned to simply tell them to go away. I told myself that speaking up from my kind place mattered, and I listened to my “kind” voice when it told me “Well done.” Further, I learned to respond to other’s unkind responses as if they were kind. Usually the speakers would shift to being kind. If not, I allowed us to differ, gently but firmly maintaining my right to speak on my own terms. I trained my body and my mind to always respond like this.

 

Now, there is a clear relationship between how I speak to myself, how I speak to others and how I accept others speaking to me. If I maintain my right to speak to myself and to others kindly, generally this generates positive outcomes. On a bad day I might consider listening to my unkind voices, but this never lasts for long. My now-ingrained habit of seeking kindness in everyone including myself always comes to the rescue. I’ve learned that the worlds’ response to me speaking up starts with how I speak to myself! I’ve learned to speak to myself as I would to someone I love deeply. I’ve added phrases such as:

 

“I deliver.”

 

“What I say matters.”

 

In all my many years of interacting with people, I’ve seen this pattern over and over again. One of the people I admire is a now-single mother. When her now-ex husband beat her once again, this time in public, only stopping when bystanders hauled him away from her, she reached the end of a part of her life when she believed the unkind voice with which he spoke to her. Once she came home from hospital, physically recovered from her wounds where possible, she started a new journey to recover from the wounds to her soul. For the sake of her children she started to speak kindly to herself. She deserved to live! With her ex-husband in prison she was safe for a time to regain her physical strength while learning to speak up for what was important to her. I was blessed to walk alongside her during this time, with the deepest admiration for the journey she took to strength; not only physical strength but also strength in her character and in her soul. This gave her precious children a new role model to grow into at a tough time in their young loves.

 

At this moment in our human story, as the #MeToo movement gains momentum, I wonder if it is especially challenging for women to speak up. The brave women who’ve done so in the #MeToo forum have not always been applauded, that’s for sure. But those who have stayed strong have been a powerful role models for all of us, men and women!

 

If you are having trouble speaking up for what matters to you, you might like to listen to the words that you are speaking to yourself. This is where all the words that everyone speaks to you, including you, originate. Are you speaking to yourself as you would to someone you love deeply? If not, what loving words could you say to yourself, like the single mother I’ve spoken about? When you achieve this, you will be astounded how much easier it will be to speak up!

 

To live is to have a choice. Wishing you well with your choice to speak up with loving kindness.

 

Wendy Campbell

wendy@glastonbury.com.au

 

You might like to read more about my journey to speaking up in my book, “On Aspiring: Journey Beyond Courage”. See www.glastonbury.com.au/on_aspiring.

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