Sisters doing it for themselves

Helena Carr-McEwen, Shay Cubby, Tearni Andrew, Shania Kilby, Tharni-Jo Parkinson, Kieah Hill, Kyra Gibson, Kyla Lake and Kitana Ritchie celebrate the completion of the Shine Sista Girls Program. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEA GROUP of teenage girls from Dubbo who were quiet in their hopes and dreams just weeks ago now have plenty to say.
Nanjing Night Net

They will talk about a future in the navy or as a nurse or other careers and they will ask questions to help them make the tough decisions in life.

The Aboriginal students found their voice as they progressed through the Shine Sista Girls Program.

The changes in attitude during the 13 weeks of meeting together were remarkable, their impressed leaders reported.

“The way that they look at themselves is changing, I think they have so much more confidence than… that first week,” said Mel Fernando from the Western NSW Local Health District’s (LHD) Women’s Health team.

“It was unreal, they didn’t speak and now we can’t shut them up.”

The leadership development program – renamed “Breakaway” by the girls – was run by dedicated members of the public health service, NSW Police, Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre and Mission Australia.

Talks between the partners about the off-campus program that aims to address specific issues faced by teenage girls occurred at the end of April and their efforts had it up and running by May 16.

The girls they welcomed to the Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre each Thursday during school hours were from Dubbo College – Delroy Campus, aged from 13 to 15 years.

The first six weeks involved completion of the neighbourhood centre’s recently-purchased SHINE program, which covered self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence and more.

Ms Fernando, an Aboriginal health education officer, and her colleague, women’s health nurse Sara Norman, continued with the second section of the Shine Sista Girls Program.

The drug and alcohol team and the mental health team from the LHD, the Australian Red Cross, the LHD’s sexual health team and its women’s health team, Mission Australia, Orana Local Area Command officers, Corrective Services NSW officers, a solicitor and others were on the list of presenters during the module.

Woolworths Orana Mall presented each girl with a bag of shampoo and conditioner and other products, and earned praise from the neighbourhood centre for its assistance with catering.

“That meant there was a minimal cost in running the program,” neighbourhood centre assistant manager Vanessa Creed said.

Representatives from the four partner services were in attendance for the presentation of certificates to the girls on Thursday and celebrated their efforts with a cake.

Ms Fernando said the nine girls who completed the program had looked forward to attending each week and that feedback from parents, teachers and other community members was that it was successful.

“These girls have dreams, one of them wants to be in the navy, (others want to be) hairdressers and nurses,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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