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.
Migrant Support Programs
Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are a diverse and extremely vulnerable group of people. Many have experienced trauma, face language barriers, and may not have the support of family or community in Australia. To reduce the risk of these men, women and children experiencing poverty and social isolation, Red Cross provides one-off financial or material assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who are not eligible for other support.
The Society of Women Leaders has helped hundreds of vulnerable women and children facing homelessness by providing support such as food assistance, essential medications and crisis accommodation through Red Cross programs. In addition, the Members of the Society of Women Leaders once again supported the end-of-year celebration for Migrant Support clients. Members and Youth Members always enjoy volunteering at the December event, which features activities, food and entertainment, helping put a smile on the faces of young children and families who have faced frightening ordeals on their journey to find safety in Australia.
Read more about Safia and how a Red Cross migrant support program helped her and her family.
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.
Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Kwinana is about 35 kilometres south of Perth, and Aboriginal people represent about 3.6% of the population. This group of the community live with significant and disproportionate disadvantages, including unemployment, domestic violence, limited education, alcohol and other drug use, health issues and contact with the criminal justice system. Despite these challenges they have an incredible resilience and want to break the cycle of disadvantage.
The Society of Women Leaders has committed $100,000 over a 12 month period to support the Walk Alongside Families program. This unique program will include healing workshops for extended family groups that bring together all generations to address the causes and impacts of intergenerational trauma. Children, women, men and families will also have the opportunity to set goals and make plans to address the issues that have negatively impacted on their lives and access intensive individual and family support to help them achieve them.
In the coming year, with the support of a program coordinator, Walk Alongside Families will work with 80 Aboriginal women, men and children on a journey of intergenerational healing.