Term 4 Updates - December 2019
Creative Arts excursions and workshops
This year the girls learned about culture and community by engaging with creative arts, especially through the means of music and visual arts.
LIFE, LOVE & MUSIC program with Mirrah
The girls participated in LIFE, LOVE & MUSIC - an education program facilitated by renowned hip-hop artist Mirrah. The program introduces participants to Mirrah’s practice, with practical lyric writing and performance workshops to make and share their own hip-hop pieces. The iMatter girls loved the opportunity to write songs about their favourite things and were very excited to explore music, lyrics and the ways in which we are all connected. The pictures below capture the girls brainstorming about what iMatter means to them and then collectively worked together to write a rap abut iMatter.
iMatter rap: “What does iMatter mean to us?”
iMatter means to us: girl power,
We play for an hour; we’re free like a flower.
We have fun together with friends like family
We are creating, play sports and learning happily.
Some like footy, some like art,
All the volunteers play an important part.
We all love to dance with ants in our pants,
We love being here, hope iMatter never ends.
Written by iMatter, 2019.
Engaging in Art with Anna
iMatter worked on a ‘strengths’ art project with Anna, a counsellor from the Child, Adolescent & Family Counselling team here at The Benevolent Society. Anna used art as a way to help the iMatter girls explore their individual strengths and build confidence. The girls had lots of fun playing with colours, discovering different means to create artworks, and for their final piece they created a ‘Strengths Tree’ which symbolised what makes us unique and what brings us together. We strongly value the benefits of collaborating with other internal professionals as it provides the development of positive relationships and mentorship, but it is also a gateway to therapeutic referrals to help deliver a holistic support system to the girls and their families.
End of term Christmas lunch
After enjoying a fun filled day at Cables Aqua Park where they splashed around and “had the best day ever!” as so many girls quoted. iMatter returned to the youth centre, and were greeted by the Allira Committee and other special guests from The Benevolent Society. The girls munched on a delicious lunch and received treasured presents, which they loved!
Term 3 Updates - November 2019
Ability Links – Mapathon Workshops
iMatter participated in a “Mapathon Project” which aimed to give the girls an understanding of accessibility and diversity through conversations and activities promoting an inclusive mindset. The project was coordinated with the help of Ability Links St Vincent De Paul and included working with people with lived experience of disability.
These workshops were highly engaging and gave the girls the opportunity to have some great discussion around disability – how some disabilities we can see, some we cannot. We looked at famous people who have disabilities and how they have achieved their dreams despite adversity. They learnt about braille and sign language and enjoyed learning how to sign their names.
We were lucky enough to have a special guest come and visit, Rhonda and her guide dog Shelley. This was very exciting and the girls were able to question Rhonda on many aspects of her life, her barriers, the tools she has to help her with everyday tasks, and the history of her vision impairment. Rhonda was very welcoming to any questions being asked and was very honest and genuine with her answers. This experience created a lot of empathy and a sharing of experiences.
The girls also had the chance to try on several stimulation goggle. These goggle replicated a number of different vision impairments – this was a great way for the group to physically experience what it’s like to live with such an impairment.
Having Shelley the guide dog visit was the best part of the program! iMatter learnt all about guide dog etiquette and when Shelley took her harness off and was ‘off duty’ she was allowed to have free play and lots of kisses and cuddles from the girls. This was a very special experience.
R U OK? DAY
On this day we were lucky enough to have the Allira committee come and visit iMatter at Claymore Youth Centre and participate in our session.
During circle time we discussed what R U OK? DAY is about and signs a friend might not be ok. We brainstormed ways we could ask if someone is ok, and who could help us if we are worried about a friend. The group participated well during discussion, shared insightful answers, and had open and honest communication.
We finished the day off with some bonding activities with Allira Committee, doing art and crafts and decorating biscuits. Delicious!
Ashurst International Law Firm and Sydney Tower Lunch
In the school holidays iMatter was lucky enough to be invited back to Ashurst for a second time. The girls learnt about the law firm and about all the different roles and responsibilities of the employees. We had a tour of the office and got to see cool spaces like the mail room, the library, the different offices, but their favourite room was the kitchen! Here they got to meet the chefs, sample some food and even step into the large cool room! Very exciting! The girls were able to ask insightful questions during the Q&A session and demonstrated respectful behaviours by listening attentively and asking relevant and interesting questions. This was a very valuable experience for the girls.
We finished the day with a delicious lunch at Sydney tower. The girls enjoyed the experience of trying new foods and exotic foods and loved the fancy dining and views. They felt very special.
Cricket Workshop – August 2019
During Term 2, iMatter was lucky enough to have Sarah, a wonderful representative from Cricket NSW, come out to Claymore and teach the girls cricket. The workshops occurred over 4 spread out weeks.
The workshops focused on developing cricket-specific skills as well as skills in communication, taking direction, and teamwork. This was a great opportunity to develop good sportsmanship. This workshop offered the girls the chance to bond with other girls in the group they might not normally work together with, and it was great to see the girls learning new skills and seeing them work as a team.
The girls showed high levels of engagement and the workshops provided exposure to other positive female role models within the local community. By the end of the 4th week, the girls were very sad to see Sarah go, they formed such a genuine bond with her and lucky for us, she promised to visit iMatter again soon. Given the success of this experience, iMatter hopes to have more sporting workshops throughout the year.
City to Surf - August 2019
A big congratulations to the Allira Committee who participated in the City to Surf this year to raise funds for the iMatter program. Together and with your support, we raised over $35,000 and came 6th place in the top 20 fundraising charities. Thank you so much for your continued support of this program. Without your help, we would not be able to achieve such amazing results for this young ladies.
Super Shelters Excursion - April 2019
During the school holidays, iMatter attended the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan. Here we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, and as we sat on some tree stumps and admired the beautiful surroundings, our guide explained the importance of shelters and what different shelters might look like for different animals.
The girls then had to collect sticks and branches and create their own shelter, bearing in mind that at the end it had to pass the water test and protect you from the rain. The girls crawled into their shelters as a watering can was poured over the top. Some shelters were successful while others not so much.
Following the shelter experiment, the girls participated in a guided tour through the gardens, learning interesting facts about the native plants and animals. The best part about this was when we all had to sausage roll down a big hill (as a short cut) to get to the water and admire the birds.
After that, the girls got to make their own animal out of clay. Creativity sparked as the girls created insects, reptiles, and small birds out of clay, sticks, leaves and other natural materials.
Lastly, we enjoyed a picnic lunch, followed by some play time in the amazing playground the gardens have to offer. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the girls had a wonderful time!
International Women's Day - March 2019
To celebrate the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, Balance For Better, The Benevolent Society, Glebe Youth Service and the City of Sydney, through funding from NSW Women’s Week, partnered to deliver an afternoon of fun, art and connection for young women.
The Strong Women, Strong Communities event supported young women to see the importance of gathering together, boosting their self-esteem and enabling a better understanding of their personal strengths.
Held at Glebe Town Hall, the event brought together young women from Girls Zone, a girls support program run by the Glebe Youth Service and iMatter.
VIPs on the day included local artist Aunty Kathy Farrawell, photographer Aunty Barb McGrady, Jess Scully, City of Sydney Councillor, and Louise Green representing the Allira Committee.
The fun really began with the marshmallow exercise: the girls were challenged to build the tallest freestanding structure in 15 minutes – with just 20 sticks of spaghetti, 10 toothpicks, one marshmallow, one metre of masking tape, one metre of string, scissors and a measuring tape. It was a great laugh for all involved!
The next activity, led by Aunty Kathy Farrawell, was a creative project built on strengths. The girls wrote down their strengths directly onto Aunty Kathy’s NAIDOC day artwork titled Because of her, we can. Aunty Kathy made a stencil with a profile of each girl’s face and painted them on to one of her artworks.
The young women also had an opportunity to meet female community leaders, bringing an awareness of their own potential and providing the older women with an opportunity to connect with young people and share their knowledge.
Christmas Lunch - December 2018
In December 2018, the iMatter girls boarded the bus on an excursion to the city to enjoy a lovely meal with the Allira committee and their daughters.
It was a busy ‘Girls Day Out’ where the girls excitedly squealed over the beautiful Christmas decorations and displays throughout the city streets.
The girls were over-whelmed by the creativity the city had to offer - Mesmerised by the singers, musicians and artists that presented in the malls and parks of Sydney.
For lunch, the girls were treated to a delicious meal at Yum Cha and got the opportunity to taste dishes they had never seen before!
After lunch, we all enjoyed a tasty dessert in Hyde Park where the girls appreciated the sites, the music, the art and had a play with the young ladies of the Alirra committee. It was lovely to observe such friendly bonds being made between all the girls!
It was an exciting day out, and the girls were very grateful for this experience. We are looking forward to iMatter’s next adventure!
Mini Chef Cooking Workshop - October 2018
On Wednesday 10th October, iMatter attended an interactive, hands-on and deliciously fun cooking workshop at La Boca Bar and Grill at the Stamford Plaza.
The girls enjoyed the exciting bus ride to the city, squealing with excitement as we drove over bridges and passed lakes. They admired the tall city sky scrapers and jumped for joy as we drove by Sydney Airport – some of the girls even claiming that that was the first time they had ever seen a plane in real life! The facilitators had a little giggle as the girls eagerly suggested that maybe next time we could take them on a plane!
We arrived at La Boca and the girls felt very fancy as they waited in the foyer to be greeted by Nick the chef and his sous chef, Mai. The girls enthusiastically put on their chef hats and aprons and were taught the basics of cooking like pour, mix, stir, knead, while preparing and cooking delicious dishes including empanadas, gnocchi and delicious cupcakes from scratch!
The day provided a fun and vibrant atmosphere and the girls got to enjoy the creations they had prepared and even got to take home a cook book featuring recipes from the workshop so they can show off their brand- new cooking skills at home. The bus ride home was full of laughs and loud sing-alongs, and the girls chatted about how lucky they are to have experienced a cooking class with a professional chef in a fancy restaurant in the city.
It was a wonderful day, and the girls are looking forward to their next learning experience!
The Disney on Ice Show - July 2018
The iMatter girls attended an excursion at Sydney Olympic Park for the Disney on Ice show during the school holidays. TBS staff and iMatter participants travelled by bus into the event which provided a great opportunity for lots of conversation and sight-seeing.
When arriving at the event, the girls and staff had fun taking photos and hanging out in anticipation for the show. As we approached Quodos Bank arena, the girls were in awe of the size of the venue and the amount of people that had also come along to watch the event. One of the girls could not believe the size and grandness of the foyer and stairs as we entered. With excitement bubbling over we made our way to our seats at which point the girls were all amazed at how many seats and people were inside the venue, one girl stating that she had not seen anything like it before.
During the show we bought the girls popcorn and drinks in a Disney on Ice souvenir cup to remember the day. The girls sang along to familiar songs and were excited as they identified some of the Disney characters skating around such as Aladdin, Elsa and Woody.
Following the event and after working up an appetite, the girls ended their day with a trip to McDonald's for a group lunch providing an opportunity to discuss the day’s activities. There may have even been a few short naps taken on the bus ride home suggesting that the day was a huge success!
Big Music Trip - April 2018
On the 20 April, thanks to the generosity of Richard Berkman and the team at Big Music, the girls from the iMatter Mentoring Program had a day of learning about instruments and making music.
On the day, the team did a number of sessions learning the drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and singing. They also wrote their own song and designed an album cover.
Th experience can be best summed up by an email sent during the day from one of the TBS program team. The subject line of the email was "Wow".
"This has been a very special day. Pretty moving. The staff reported that this is the (first) ever Pacific Islander kids they have had at their camp and they cannot believe the natural talent. Wow! Staff saying that the music is in their souls ❤️ Pretty moving stuff :-)" Eliza - TBS Community Services Team.
Accessing and getting to be hands on with musical instruments, being creative, self and group expression, overcoming fears, working as a team - the benefits to the girls from the day occurred on so many levels. It was a first time experience for all of them and they loved it.
Members of the Allira Committee attended the day in the morning and got hands on with helping the girls. Chair of the Allia Committee Sara Lane commented:
"It has been a fab morning, the team at Big Music are fantastic and the girls were on fire. Very special!" Sara Lane - Allira Committee
Summer Camp - January 2018
The iMatter school holiday camp was held at Wedderburn Christian Camp, over 3 consecutive days in January 2018. The weather was hot and humid, in excess of 40 degrees each day, but that did not destroy the spirit of the girls, who were eager to get involved in the activities each day.
The purpose of the camp was to give the girls an experience that was well outside what’s normally on offer for the children in the January school holiday break. None of the girls had been on school camp before, and they were very excited when they heard the surprise news of what was planned.
The camp agenda was aimed at addressing the 5 iMatter program outcomes, increased physical exercise, increased access to knowledge and information around nutritional and other health needs, increased access to mentors and safe adult relationships, increased knowledge in regards to making positive relationships and increased self-awareness, with a particular focus on gross motor skills and self awareness.
Each day the activities chosen were aimed at supporting the girls to try new challenges, push personal boundaries and get outside of their comfort zones. The giant swing, Possum Glider, H2O Skirmish and swimming were all very popular activities.
The camp was such a fantastic experience. New friendships and relationships were formed and the increased self-esteem of the girls was very noticeable. There was a sense of belonging and connection within the group and they continue to talk and ask about when they can do it all again!
At the completion of the camp the girls completed a survey which asked them:
What was the most enjoyable thing you’ve done at camp and why?
The Giant Swing was the big winner. Some participants said they felt free, they got to see Georges River, felt like they could fly. One young participant reported that it helped her with her fear of heights. Another said it helped her conquer all of her fears. One was scared and didn’t think she could do it but she did and she felt strong and one articulated that she loved the view, it was the best, she could see the whole world from up there. Bush-craft was a hit and learning about the life cycle of a cicada was popular. Swimming got a few votes because it was fun and cool.
What was your least favourite activity and why?
4 girls reported that they didn’t like the water fight, one reported cheating. A couple said they didn’t like the bush walk it was long and hot.
Did you try something new, what was it and how did it make you feel?
"Yes the Big Swing, it made me feel good and brave." Hayley
"Throwing stuff at each other in the water fight made me feel happy." Angel
"Touching Cicada shells is something I’ve never done before." Scarlett
"Yes, I’m following my dreams and feel confident."
All girls reported that they felt an important part of the iMatter Team. They felt encouraged by the support of others when facing a challenging situation. They all agreed that they got to know each other better. One reported how kind everyone was. Another simply said that she just felt happy about herself. One said that she learnt that you can trust people. One young girl, in huge writing, wrote I MATTER.
The Story So Far
In 2013, after a visit to Claymore, the Allira Committee identified a need for young girls to be mentored and guided with the aim to help them live their best life.
After consultation with the community, it was clear that parents and caregivers were also concerned about the challenges facing these young girls. They were also concerned that their daughters did not have career aspirations or knowledge of educational and career opportunities. Further, they were concerned about providing a safe environment with less exposure to violence and less drug and/or alcohol abuse.
Recognising a need for early intervention programs in Claymore, the Allira Committee in collaboration with The Benevolent Society, established the iMatter - a mentoring program for young girls.
The suburb of Claymore
Claymore is a suburb of Sydney and is located 54 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Campbelltown. It was originally home to the Dharawal people. Claymore is the largest public housing estate in NSW, with nearly 100% of all houses being public housing. The streets are named after Australian artists.
In Claymore employment is rare. Lots of kids do not know anyone that works. Girls have babies. A teenage girl in Claymore is 16 x more likely to have a baby than any other teenager in Australia. There are young girls that are pregnant or have babies at ages 13, 14, 15 and often their mum had them as a young teenager as well. Poverty is normal. Claymore families live on $300 a week less than the poverty line. This means kids go without food (let alone good nutrition), the electricity gets cut off regularly, they don’t have transport and there is no money for new shoes, clothes, school uniforms and certainly no money for extras like school excursions or sport. Many families do not have basic appliances or can’t replace them when they are broken like a fridge, washing machine. Many kids sleep on mattresses on the floor and some without linen. Heating and cooling are definitely not in the budget. Families are often in rent arrears and this causes another layer of stress with insecure housing and eviction notices.
All this, just over a one hour drive from the Sydney CBD.
The Allira Committee
The Allira Committee comprises volunteers Sara Lane (Chair), Georgie Taylor, Chrissy Comino and Louise Green (left to right).
The name Allira comes from an indigenous word which has a number of meanings in different parts of Australia. For the Committee they chose the word for its meaning for a strong female relative or family relationship - Aunt, Niece, Sister etc. As strong women in their own right the Committee has chosen to focus their work on building programs that support disadvantaged and vulnerable females in Australia.
Together they have worked on bringing the iMatter program to life.
From the original motivation to make a difference, to funding a global research review, to providing leadership funding to run the program over the 6 years, as well as inspiring their friends and relatives to provide funding, to building a relationship with the staff and girls on the program - the Allira Committee is deeply committed to ensuring the success of the iMatter program.
The Allira Committee was motivated by the TV documentary "Growing Up Poor" - reported by Sarah Ferguson and presented by Kerry O'Brien which went to air on Monday 24th September at 8.30 pm on ABC 1.
The Benevolent Society relies on volunteer leadership of the Allira Committee to support innovative initiatives like the iMatter Mentoring Program. These non-government funded programs are very important to the ongoing development of skills, data and results on the best way to tackle some of the complex problems facing Australian society.
If you wish to support the iMatter mentoring program, please donate today. Your donations will make a real difference to the lives of these young vulnerable girls. We thank you for your support.