Young Women Win Funds for Refugee Support Program

Last week, five young Fairfield women pitched an idea to a select group of community leaders, aimed at supporting refugee and migrant women – a hot topic of conversation at the moment, with the City of Fairfield currently accommodating over 50 percent of the total NSW refugee intake.  

The young women were one of four groups who participated in a Generational Leaders program under the Cabra Diggers Cares project.  Cabra-Vale Diggers is providing $5,000 towards funding, so they can turn their winning concept into a reality.

Four months ago, the club launched their Cabra- Diggers Cares initiative, announcing they would work with a community, not-for-profit or charity organisation on specific projects that aided and assisted the community. The club aims to do five to six projects each year.  This is over and above their ClubGrants commitments, which has already seen the club contribute more than $1.56 million in community support in the past financial year.

The inaugural Cabra-Diggers Cares collaboration was with The Future Leaders Group who ran a series of workshops for young women 15 to 22 years of age.  The young women learnt how to better understand themselves and how they could make a contribution that would impact their community.

The young women were split into four groups, each charged with creating a project that would benefit young women like themselves in the Fairfield Community. Each group was paired with an organisation to mentor them and help them understand some of the societal problems and issues facing local woman and children.

Each of the four groups presented their projects last Thursday evening, endeavouring to secure the $5,000 funding on offer from Cabra-Vale Diggers.  In front of a crowd of community and school leaders, including City of Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone, they each had approximately 10 minutes to pitch their ideas.

The audience was invited to vote electronically for the pitch that would have the most significant community impact, along with a specialist judging panel consisting of John Bilic, Editor of the Fairfield Advance; Councillor Sarah Yilmaz, Deputy Mayor of Fairfield; Samantha Henshaw, General Manager Events Cinemas NSW; Kristen Gower, CCO Cabra-Vale Diggers and Des Ong, Panel Chairperson for the Generational Leaders.

Also in attendance on the night was Councillor Dai Le who provided a keynote address. She said she was encouraged to see such entrepreneurial spirit and passion in the community and spoke about the skills required to be an effective leader – the need for resilience, boldness, risk taking and the belief in yourself, but that the most important attribute a leader could have was the desire to make a difference.  

Councillor Le also thanked the club for supporting the students and young women and showcasing the considerable talent within South Western Sydney.

The winning team consisted of Calista Cheng (St Johns Park High School), Mavis Mensah (James Busby High School), Lisa Nguyen (Cabra Vale Diggers Club), Sozel Shaba (Mary MacKillop Catholic College) and Julie Tan (Canley Vale High School) who were mentored by Rowena Asaad, Women’s Settlement Worker for Core Community Services.

The girls developed a 10-15-week refugee support program comprising of a sewing workshop for young women 18-30 years of age. The workshops would also help them to develop English language skills, build friendships, gain independence and create social networks. They initially envisage making library bags for local schools but want the women to develop their own products for sale through market stalls or online.  The group partnered with TAFE to provide classrooms, teachers and materials.

The other community partner groups were the Dandelion Support Network who assist young mothers and their children seeking to flee domestic or family violence; the Autism Advisory & Support Service and Ankor Flowers and Craft, another organisation that assists refugee and migrant women. Participating schools included St. Johns Park High School, James Busby High School, Mary MacKillop Catholic College, Canley Vale High School and Cabramatta High School.

The judges said it was a very close decision when trying to select the winner and that they were impressed by how well thought out each the proposals were. Ultimately, securing the strong partnership with TAFE, won the day for the Core Community Services team.

Cabra-Diggers Care will be announcing their next community project shortly. Anyone interested in the project can find out more at the Cabra-Vale Diggers website or via the Cabra-Diggers Cares Facebook page.