Meet Emilie: a beautiful confident young woman, exemplary pupil, budding make-up artist, proud car owner with a part-time job. This was not the same girl a couple of years ago, however. Similarly to 30,000 other Australian children last year, Emilie has suffered a history of neglect.
Existing day-to-day, Emilie was subjected to a constant environment of domestic violence due to her mother’s series of abusive boyfriends. By the time she was 8-years-old she had been to nine different schools. She had a lot of trouble making friends and didn’t bother trying because she knew that she would just have to leave them again.
Emilie was devastated when DoCs took her two younger brothers away from her mother as she was deemed unfit to care from them. Emilie felt helpless and alone, and her behaviour began to change. She became very angry as she didn’t understand why no adult was there to care for them. Moving schools a few more times didn’t help.
From this point forward, Emilie’s story could have continued one of two ways. Thankfully at the age of 15, a school counsellor nominated Emilie for the Life Changing Experience Foundation (LCEF)’s SISTER2siter Program, knowing that it would give her some sense of stability and a positive female role model in her life. The 12-month mentoring program matches vulnerable girls like Emilie, with ‘Big Sister’ role models. Together each month, the girls and their mentors’ journey on ‘life changing’ experiences that help to build their confidence and trust.
“I was so nervous on my way to Butterfly Boot camp. Upon arrival, I had butterflies in my stomach and felt a little sick. But when I meet my Big Sister I felt an immediate connection as she wasn’t very old at all. At the camp I was placed into my cabin and had a chance to get to know the other girls and I found that they all had similar problems to me. Before I knew it we were already into our once a month outings that included stuff like: art escape, bikes for tykes, bulling and conflict resolutions, sexual and personal health matters, grief and loss and healthy life style. We had talks from people that had shared some of our problems, and they gave us great advice.”
The SISTER2sister Program gave Emilie the right advice and support at the crucial point in her life where she could have so easily fallen through the cracks of the system. Emilie’s Big Sister Jade, helped her through her tough times and encouraged her to have goals for the future. Emilie is now a Butterfly Ambassador for the Life Changing Experiences Foundation and speaks at various fundraising events.
Jessica Brown (Founder and CEO of LCEF) says, “There are thousands of young girls in Australia that need someone to fight for them. It is about using the power of community to finally break the cycle of trauma, offering hope and support to girls in this country, from all different nationalities, religions and socio economic groups.”
The SISTER2sister Program mentors girls ages between 12 and 18 who are ‘at risk’ due to extreme suffering as a direct result of trauma, bereavement, poverty, sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, neglect, homelessness, sickness/disability and destitution.
On the 6th December 2013, women all across Australia will step out of their work shoes and into their favourite pair of stilettos, to make a stand for vulnerable young girls like Emilie. Slip into your favourite stilettos in exchange for gold coin on Step up for Sisterhood Day and help stamp abuse, neglect and poverty. Register here www.stepupforsisterhood.org.au. Join the conversation here #stepupforsisterhoodday