2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards

Congratualtions to all the finalists in the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. In the White Pages Community & Government Award category, four women have been nomiated for their particular and siginifcant contributions regarding the health and well-being of Australian young people and children.

Susan Barton

Lighthouse Foundation, Richmond

‘We have worked tirelessly to change the way Australia responds to the issue of out of home care for children and young people and the Government has recently recognised the success of our therapeutic model of care.’Susan Barton

Witnessing a child die from malnutrition while working as a volunteer in Sri Lanka spurred Susan Barton to foster children in her own home in Victoria. A proud mother of six and a grandmother of 11, Susan also established the Lighthouse Foundation which has cared for more than 700 homeless children and young people during the past 21 years. She has developed an innovative therapeutic family model of care which is delivered through 10 homes across the State.  Under her model, young people are supported by live-in carers, case management and psychological services. The organisation has exported their model of care to other providers here and overseas. A recent Social Ventures Australia report estimated that for every dollar spent with Lighthouse, $12 in social value was created. Susan has also co-authored two books on building teenage self-esteem and therapeutic residential care for children and spoken at overseas conferences.

Jane Burns

Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Abbotsford

‘What started as an academic interest 15 years ago has turned into a burning desire to change a broken system that fails to support young people struggling with depression and other mental health issues.’ Jane Burns

Jane Burns grew up in country SA in the 1970s in an environment where girls were expected to study Arts at university, marry and have a family. Instead, Jane pursued a PhD as a National Health and Medical Research Council scholar and moved to Melbourne to work in suicide prevention. Today, she is CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre in Abbotsford. Jane established the $100m initiative in 2010. The organisation brings together Australia’s greatest scientists and builds on her national and international partnerships with government, corporate, philanthropic, not-for-profit and community sectors. The Centre aims to change the way Australia thinks about young people and uses technology to prevent suicide, depression, drug and alcohol problems and eating disorders. The Centre’s services include national online campaigns to reduce bullying, mobile apps for suicide prevention in indigenous communities and virtual clinics in schools and universities across Australia to address depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Mandy Burns

Ardoch Youth Foundation, St Kilda

‘Research shows poverty is a key determinant in the educational and life outcomes of children – we help vulnerable children get to and succeed in school to break the poverty cycle.’ Mandy Burns

Complementing her work as a psychologist by volunteering to mentor vulnerable children at Ardoch Youth Foundation, Mandy Burns became immensely impressed with the organisation’s work and impact. Fifteen years later, she is CEO of the St Kilda-based not-for-profit organisation that supports 12,000 disadvantaged children throughout Australia. The Foundation has an annual budget of $2.3 million, 28 staff and 3000 volunteers. It works with children and young people aged three to 18 years.  Their programs focus on literacy and numeracy, student well-being and early childhood education to help children and young people access education and stay in school to break the poverty cycle. In the past five years, Mandy re-modelled the organisation and expanded its activities by 575 per cent to support more than 50 schools and early childhood centres. She is driven by a deep sense of social justice which was reflected when she won the Victorian Children’s Community Award in 2009.

Andrea Lee

SCISCO Career Pathways, Broadbeach

‘Our organisation loves these kids and we get so much satisfaction seeing them attend every day.’ Andrea Lee

When Andrea Lee began SCISCO Career Pathways, a non-profit charity organisation to support disengaged teenagers, she was a one-woman band. Her organisation now helps up to 1000 young people each year and has grown to 33 staff and 150 volunteers at four Gold Coast locations. SCISCO provides voluntary alternate education and many of the kids it works with have been expelled, dropped out of school or are habitual truants. Andrea believes that by giving errant youth a sense of belonging and an education she can change their lives. Andrea manages an annual budget of $2.3 million and recently established SCISCO’s first Alternative Learning Centre. SCISCO commissioned independent research to evaluate its learning. Andrea says the study showed her programs directly improve self-esteem, self-efficacy, sense of belonging and academic engagement of young people. Andrea pays credit to her three senior staff and expert board of management which includes a criminologist, lawyer, accountant and HR specialist.