Featured Grants

Impact Area B: Children at Risk

Featured Grant: cohealth Ltd

Towards the Sisters and Brothers Project

Empathy building was a key feature of the award-winning Sisters and Brothers Project, which worked with children to reduce discrimination and emphasise diversity and commonality through an innovative music program.

“Sisters and Brothers addresses race-based discrimination from the vantage point of lived experience. We believe in the importance of owning who we are as people of different cultures and different backgrounds, but also acknowledging that we are one race,” says Geskeva Komba, one of the project’s lead facilitators.

Sisters and Brothers is delivered by cohealth’s Arts Generator which works with children aged eight to 12 through an innovative music program to emphasise commonality and diversity, and promote dialogue around diversity and race-based discrimination. In 2015, it won the VicHealth award for Improving Mental Wellbeing.

Over the last five years, the program has engaged 1,600 children through storytelling, collaborative song-writing, musical rhythms from diverse cultural traditions, and role-play, with young CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) artists from MASSIVE Hip Hop Choir who have been mentored and trained by cohealth.

“The fact that the project is delivered by teams of young people from the communities we have been targeting is a clear reason for the project’s high level of success. This kind of ‘embodied’ practice — where the health messages are coming from young people that the children directly identify with and relate to, has proved incredibly powerful,” says Liss Gabb, cohealth Arts Generator Coordinator.

Program results show that 95 per cent of children reported their school was a safer place after the project. Teachers also reported a higher level of empathy in the classroom environment afterwards, and a 40 per cent increase in children’s willingness to respond to and intervene in a situation of race-based discrimination.

The program has been just as beneficial for the facilitators running the project. Artists report that it has positively contributed to their employability and contributed to their personal growth, while expanding personal and professional networks.

“Racism is a strong topic that touches everyone in some form or another,” says Carla Olea, Primary Welfare Officer at Dinjerra Primary School.

“Sisters and Brothers teaches kids so many social skills and is a program that should be supported, acknowledged and shared amongst many communities, especially when the message is delivered in such an engaging manner by talented, young leaders.”

Featured Grant: Carlton Primary School Building Resilience Program

Many refugee children at Carlton Primary have first hand or generational experience of trauma, which impacts their family dynamic and their ability to settle and achieve at school. The Building Resilience program fosters positive behavioural change for the children.

Opened in 1973, Carlton Primary is a community-focused, multicultural school. The majority of children at Carlton Primary are from a refugee background. In 2013, the Trust awarded the school a two-year open grant to develop and run a program to assist refugee children whose experiences of trauma triggered behavioural and educational issues at school and home.

The grant is enabling the school to increase the position of the school’s Wellbeing Coordinator, Ellie Bradbeer, to full-time. Ellie facilitates promotion of positive behaviours throughout the school, which includes twice a term in-house professional development for all teachers and seven hours of weekly classroom work with students. This work encourages children to think about their own learning and behavioural choices and looks at a variety of complex issues they encounter, in one-on-one sessions. One project focuses on addressing the anti-Muslim sentiment that exists in the media and public opinion.

Ellie says the funding is enabling the school to deliver a deeper, more rigorous, targeted wellbeing program, which has made a significant difference to students, teachers and the wider school community.  “The program has seen a major improvement in school wide positive behaviour. It has taught students self-awareness that will help them in the classroom, at home, and throughout their lives. In particular, we have noticed a much greater capacity for children to solve problems independently, to raise concerns respectfully and to engage in their work with greater curiosity and capacity.”

The grant is also supporting the production of a video showing the change in students’ understanding of what it means to be ‘a learner’ over the course of a year. The school plans to continue to deliver this program.


Featured Grant: Wirrpanda Foundation Deadly Sista Girlz Project

The Deadly Sista Girlz program was created for Aboriginal girls aged 12-17 years with the aim of improving self-esteem, resilience and knowledge relating to physical and mental health. The Program was delivered to 32 Aboriginal girls by Wirrpanda Foundation mentors at Worawa Aboriginal College once a week throughout the course of a year.

The sessions covered identity, values, connecting, family violence, positive relationships, puberty, drug and alcohol use, emotions, goal setting and comfort zones. The girls also enrolled as a team in the Yarra Valley netball competition, trained twice a week and participated in carnivals, playing sport against non-aboriginal girls.

Over the course of the year the girls began articulating their values and identity with confidence and conviction.

The Deadly Sista Girlz program won a number of awards in 2013 including: the Constable Care Child Safety Foundation Community Safety Award, a highly commended in the Federal Government’s House of Representatives Committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, World Aids Day Award and the Deadly Award in the Excellence in Education category. In addition, Deadly Sista Girlz mentors won the NAIDOC youth of the Year award and are a finalist in Sport and Recreation awards

Visit the Wirrpanda Foundation website


Featured Grant: Stride Foundation: A sustainable future for the organisation

The Ross Trust provided a grant to Stride to investigate potential mergers with other suitable charitable organisations in an effort to enhance the sustainability of the organisation. With this funding Stride’s CEO was seconded part time to prepare the internal staff and systems for a merger, facilitate the merger and manage post­merger integration.

Following a strategic review of likely merger partners, discussion was initiated with Whitelion. The youth programs offered by Stride and Whitelion were quickly identified as being highly complementary, and that through merger, a more robust organisation would ensure better support of vulnerable, at-risk youth across Australia.

On this basis, the Board Chairs of both organisations agreed to proceed to the next level of merger discussions through a process of due diligence which led to an agreement that the merger proceed through the integration of Stride’s operations into Whitelion with effect from 1 May 2014.

Visit the Stride Foundation website