Guiding Young Warrior Women towards the future

Guiding Young Warrior Women towards the future

The Warrior Women Foundation is truly visionary. It’s an organisation with a focus on supporting girls aged between 15 and 25 years who are transitioning from out-of-home care (OOHC) to independent living. Young women need mentors in their lives to guide them and offer support. A small grant provided by CCI Giving’s Communities Taking Steps program in round 6 helped train 25 mentors under their pilot mentorship ‘Young Warrior Women Program’. Mentors trained gain the skills to engage with young women during the important and formative years after they leave out-of-home care.

It’s a complex interaction of factors that impacts the lives of young women in care and those leaving care. Negative or positive outcomes link directly to the level of support women have. A stark reality for young people who exit care is the experience of significant social and economic marginalisation. This includes poor educational and health outcomes such as homelessness and/or housing instability; significantly higher rates of mental illness compared to the general population; unemployment and underemployment; substance abuse issues; involvement in the youth criminal justice system; and even early parenthood.

Warrior Women’s Foundation CEO Jessica Brown talks about the importance of mentors for youth.

“We’ve learned more about young people living in out-of-home care who have natural mentors during adolescence. They do better when making the transition to adult life. They may not have parent mentors but connections to other adult mentors makes a vital difference to their lives in areas of education and work, psychological wellbeing, and physical health.”

COVID restrictions in 2021 had a significant negative impact on delivering the Warrior Women Foundation’s mentor program, so training shifted online to avoid delays.

“The pilot adapted to an online format to comply with Covid restrictions, and it proved a huge success for both mentors and mentees,” she explains.

“The initial call out on social media for mentors brought us 50 applications and we were able to choose 25 who were well suited. They did lifeline training online and began mentoring soon after. Case workers were able to match people without meeting them in person, a tough job but the result was surprisingly successful.”

All young women involved with mentors were in out-of-home care or were being transitioned to independent living. In fact, 11 young women were completing their final year of high school and the foundation was able to extend support to additional maths tutoring.

“Moving the program online rather than conducting it face-to-face was heartbreaking,” says Jessica.

“I just knew it was far more important to have these young women engaged and supported in whatever capacity was attainable even if it was online. We managed to move this program forward and it made a difference to these women. Some now have employment and one has been offered an apprenticeship.”

This year’s mentors complied a recipe book for participants of the program following a workshop session. A Boost Juice franchise owner who mentored bought a blender for each of the women who took part in the program so that they can make fruit smoothies at their homes.

Mentoring develops positive relationships to support young women in building life skills as they transition to new living arrangements. The Young Warrior Women Program is important for the broader community as an opportunity for building confidence in young people and fostering connections that are caring.

CCI Giving Foundation Officer Lauren Clair described the mentoring program as a trustworthy connection that young people need during their development to adulthood.

“A mentor can play such a vital role in the positive development of a teenager’s life. If there is no parent or family role model, a relationship with a trusted and trained mentor can have an influence on an individual’s outlook and capacity for becoming self-sufficient. CCI Giving is extremely proud and delighted to have partnered with the Warrior Women Foundation to support their mentor training efforts.”

The Communities Taking Steps program offers grants of $5,000 (or up to $10,000 for small capital works) for suitable organisations assisting specified cohorts. You can learn more about this program, including application requirements, here. Applications for round 8 will open early 2022.