The Society of Women Leaders mobilises the power of women in philanthropy to benefit the most disadvantaged in our communities. Since its inception, the group has worked to effect change through financial and hands-on involvement in Red Cross programs, including the Young Parents Program, which works to improve the capacity of young parents, RespectED, a family and community violence prevention program, and through funding for a female International Aid Delegate.
Working together, the Members of the Society of Women Leaders have a say in how their gifts are used, allowing them to effect change in areas that are close to their heart. Featured below are three of the projects that Members have chosen to jointly support.
Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program
Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program works to ensure best outcomes for children and families by improving the capacity of young parents with complex needs, aged 13-24, to live and parent independently.
It is a program designed to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting young women and men who are unable (due to many factors) to access elsewhere the safety, security and support required to look after their child effectively.
The Society of Women Leaders has committed to financially supporting the program for a period of three years, ensuring the delivery of child development, education and volunteer support work for all families at all sites of the Young Parents Program.
"Me and my partner know when we need support, and we're not strong enough on our own, we can always go to Red Cross. I've learned how to break the cycle now, and live a better life. I want my daughter to grow up happy, and I'm so proud of what I've achieved so far," says Kyla, a smiling 19-year old mum who's in her first year at Parramatta's Young Parents Program.
Read more about Kyla's story and how Young Parents Program has helped her and countless others to tackle life's challenges »
International aid workers
When crises occur around the world, Australian aid workers are often there to help, as part of global Red Cross response teams. They could be setting up field hospitals, organising emergency shelter, connecting water supplies, or negotiating with combatants to allow aid into a conflict zone.
The Society of Women Leaders is funding Amanda McClelland to be deployed for 12 months in times of crisis. Amanda McClelland is a public health specialist who played a critical role in the way Red Cross responded to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. She helped design and develop protocols for the treatment centres that effectively isolated patients with Ebola while preventing their families, nurses and doctors from contracting the virus. She has also played a key role in responding to outbreaks of Zika virus and yellow fever.
Listen to Amanda's insights in episode 1 of our How Aid Works podcast »
Healthier mothers and children in Indonesia
Life can be tough for women and children in Indonesia's Nusa Tenggara Timur province.
The remote communities near the border between Indonesia and Timor-Leste have endured forced displacement, drought and crop failures. Bad water, limited food, disease and poverty all contribute to one of the highest rates of childhood stunting in the world.
The Society of Women Leaders is supporting mothers and daughters to change their future. This includes equipping mums with knowledge about nutrition, hygiene and disease transmission; training local health workers; increasing access to health care and obstetric services; improving water supply systems; and diversifying crops.
Young mums like Lucinda (pictured) are key to the whole thing. They'll volunteer to learn and pass on new skills, identify community needs, and get involved in creating solutions.
RespectED is a family and community violence prevention program that aims to provide education and training to support healthy, non-violent relationships and to build communities' capacity to respond to factors known to increase family and community violence.
Through a combination of evidence-based education and capacity building strategies, key community leaders and community members themselves are guided to tackle local issues and reduce the level and impact of violence against children, women, the elderly and others who are vulnerable.
The Society of Women Leaders has generously supported RespectED, playing a vital role in its successful implementation in disadvantaged communities in Western Australia and Tasmania.
"Tennant Creek sits in the middle of the Northern Territory and is a town of great diversity. Aboriginal residents from 11 language groups make up nearly half of the population of 3,500 who come from all corners of the world. Through the invitation and support from local Aboriginal residents, Red Cross is delivering RespectED, a prevention education and capacity building program developed by Canadian Red Cross to address violence and abuse."
Read more about RespectED »
A daily phone call that can save a life
Giving peace of mind to people who are elderly and isolated by providing a daily phone call to check on their wellbeing is another way our Society of Women Leaders is reaching vulnerable people through their philanthropic initiatives. Every day of the year, even at Christmas, trained volunteers make a call to some of our most vulnerable Australians with a friendly 'hello'. If a call goes unanswered, we send help straight away.
Trish Ross (pictured) has known the fear of falling at home: "I was lying there hopelessly frightened, in pain, and time went by. At one stage I thought, well, this is the end of me… Then I heard the phone ring. I just lie there, and by this time, I was really crying and praying. It rang for the third time and I knew it was Red Cross and it was the best sound I'd ever heard in my life."
Last year, we were able to provide emergency care to more than 1,000 people like Trish, who were ill or injured at home. Red Cross will continue to make these life changing phone calls with the generous support of our Society of Women Leaders.
We thank Founding Patron, Yang Yang who pledged the first donation to this important work in lieu of receiving gifts for her birthday.