The Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Leadership Project

2 November 2016

At YWCA Canberra, we believe that young women’s leadership is key to addressing gender inequality more broadly. A program we’re particularly proud of is the Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Leadership Project, which we have run annually since 2013.birragai-blog

In May 2016, YWCA Canberra offered a two-day leadership program for 10 young women who identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, to build their leadership skills, connect them with young women mentors, and provide them with access to advice and opportunities to facilitate their transition from secondary school to further education or entering the workforce.

The project was kicked off with an Acknowledgement of Country and encouraging attendees to connect with each other as students from a range of Tuggeranong schools, and to think about and discuss their expectations and definition of what a leader is.

This was then followed practical skills that could be used for resume writing and preparing for interviews. Students were lucky enough to have representatives from Habitat Personnel prepare a mock-up interview session, where the students immersed themselves in interviews, and received feedback and advice on how to improve.

One of the key takeaways from this practical session was for students to ensure they have ample time to prepare for interviews, and to have the confidence within themselves to know they deserve a chance.

This continued on with guest speakers form the community, who shared their own leadership journeys, and the challenges that they faced within family settings. The majority of the students reported that they related to the challenges regarding family expectations, and the pressures involved in helping their families.

Day two of the project began at Birrigai with an acknowledgement of Country, and a Low Ropes course which helped students develop trust and communication, and to work together as a team to complete all elements of the course.

This was then followed by a team initiatives course, where they learned about leadership, problem solving, cooperation and communication in a team. This then lead to the students discussing leadership using a vision board to identify characteristics and values needed in leadership. Finally, the day finished with students developing strength posters, which helped students visualise what strengths they possess, and any future goals they would like to achieve within the next 12 months.

At the end of the project, students left feeling inspired and supported to pursue their leadership goals.

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