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Seeing Women Flourish

      Bernie Black’s Brave Foundation Supports Teen Parents to Become Healthy Families       – By Sophia Auld   Bernadette Black was only 16 when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She was living in Melbourne with her parents, devoted Catholics, and two siblings and she wasn’t sure what to do.  Her situation grew more difficult when she experienced first-hand the stigma and lack of support associated with a teenage pregnancy.   “Throughout my pregnancy, so many people looked at me critically and judgmentally and made me think I should be embarrassed and ashamed,” says “Bernie”, now 41. “I desperately needed help and inspiration from others who had been in my situation but I found none.”   As a result, Bernie established the Brave Foundation in 2009, a not-for-profit organisation that equips expecting and parenting teens with resources, referrals and educational opportunities for achieving a happy and healthy family. The national charity connects expecting and parenting teens with more than 500 outreach and educational services that exist to support them.   Such connections to local support “builds a village of acceptance around them and helps them have the same outcomes that any other young person in Australia would have,” Bernie says. Brave Foundation’s website also provides advice for young men, families, friends and professionals who are involved in a teen’s journey.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Bernadette Black (centre) with ADM Chair of Board Jenni Stoddart (left) and ADM CEO Dr Kate Harrison Brennan (right), at the ADM Annual Funding Event in September.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Thanks to this vision for supporting teens through the Brave Foundation, Bernie recently won the “Do” category and a grant at ADM’s Annual Funding Event in September 2018. She expects to use the grant for develop her leadership skills as she takes the Brave Foundation into its next phase.   The funding she received through ADM enables her to attend an intensive leadership program at the Harvard Kennedy school in Cambridge, designed to help women advance to top positions of influence in public leadership. Bernie says this will enhance her ability to influence policy in helping people experiencing heightened vulnerability in Australia and beyond.   While Bernie is thrilled with the opportunity this funding provides, she acknowledges it’s a long way from where she started. At 16, she promised herself three things: to be a good mother, complete her education, and write a book to encourage others in her situation. That book,  Brave Little Bear , is the story of Bernie’s experience as a teenage mother who goes on to qualify as a registered nurse and become the Barnardos Australian Mother of the Year.   Written in 2006, the extraordinary response to the book became the catalyst for the Brave Foundation. After its launch, Bernadette received emails from expecting and parenting teens Australia-wide asking where they could finish their schooling and find local support.   Bernie says her Christian faith has underpinned the journey from talking about her vegemite-smeared manuscript in churches to running a national foundation she hopes will grow in impact and resources in the $20 million mark.   But Bernie’s vision didn’t always look like it would come to fruition. In fact, she lobbied federal government for 12 years for better support for expecting and parenting teens while exploring ways to improve their lives before her work was recognised.  Finally, following 12 months of particularly intensive lobbying, the Brave Foundation was invited to develop a best practice strategy for expecting and parenting teens in Australia. Bernie and her team worked for 18 months with 30 people – including psychologists, nurses, school principals, federal and state children's commissioners and members of parliament – to create a 380-page document outlining a national pathway plan.  It worked. Last year, they were awarded $4.5 million to implement it.   “To see that in my lifetime . . . is nothing short of miraculous and amazing for these young women,” Bernie says. “They have high hopes for their dreams, aspirations and careers but often don’t know how to reach them – they haven't had a pathway.”   Bernie says that this lack of clear direction has led to 79 per cent of teen parents ending up on long-term welfare. But when young mothers are supported, they are “incredibly resilient and resourceful” and enabled to reach educational goals or enter the workforce. In turn, this helps break the generational cycle that can happen with the children of teenage parents becoming teen parents themselves, Bernie says.  In 2018, the Brave Foundation worked with 350 expecting and parenting teens through its intensive pathway plan. The foundation has employed 10 mentors, each of whom works with 25 expecting and parenting teens from pregnancy through their child's first year. Of the 150 enrolled so far, Bernie says, “60 are already meeting their first goals towards education, workforce participation and maternal and child health.”  While Bernie is deeply committed to seeing the Brave Foundation develop to its full potential, part of her journey, she says, has been learning “to surrender it to God. I am here to be a good steward of what I’ve been given for the period that I need to. I [want] to make sure that the legacy I can leave for . . . Brave Foundation . . . is one that is left for many lifetimes ahead of me. I'll just be a small part of it.”                          Find out more about the 2018 Annual Funding Event  here .

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Bernie Black’s Brave Foundation Supports Teen Parents to Become Healthy Families

Bernadette Black was only 16 when she unexpectedly became pregnant. Her situation grew more difficult when she experienced first-hand the stigma and lack of support associated with a teenage pregnancy. As a result, Bernie established the Brave Foundation in 2009, a not-for-profit organisation that equips expecting and parenting teens with resources, referrals and educational opportunities for achieving a happy and healthy family.

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      ADM Awards $60,000 in Funding for Initiatives to Christian Women Leaders     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Pitchers, panelists and ADM board members after our 2018 Annual Funding Event.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Anglican Deaconess Ministries has awarded over $60,000 to Australian Christian women from across the globe in its third Annual Funding Event on Wednesday, 19 September.  Selected women representing four states across Australia as well as Norway, Papua New Guinea and the UK received funding for a variety of unique Christian initiatives and ministries. Aligning with ADM’s 127-year old commitment to theological formation, mercy and justice and public engagement, this year’s 17 applicants presented projects within the categories of IDEAS, FORM, DO and ENGAGE. Applicants offered five-minute pitches in front of expert panellists and an audience of over 80 guests including church ministers, business women, lay leaders and artists.  “We want to affirm the innovative ideas and excellent work of Australian Christian women throughout the world, and our Funding Event is one way we can do that,” said ADM Director of Public Engagement Dr. Annette Pierdziwol, who oversees the event. “ADM's Annual Funding Event provides a unique forum for entrepreneurial Christian women to bring their ideas and initiatives before a panel and pitch for up to $25,000 in no-strings attached funding. It’s inspiring to see the breadth and depth of creative ways women are using their gifts to serve God and their neighbours. ”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Overall winner, Jen Logan of Fer, was presented with her award by Rev. Jenni Stoddart, ADM’s board chair, via a video call as [from left to right] Sono Leone, Anna Weir, Bernadette Black and Dr Kate Harrison Brennan look on.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     After the pitches were considered, Dr. Kate Harrison-Brennan, CEO of ADM, and Rev. Jenni Stoddart, ADM’s board chair, presented the winners in each category. Capturing the overall award of $25,000 of the day, and winner of the ENGAGE category, was  Jen Logan, Director of Fer , an international visual arts initiative based in the U.K.   Bernadette Black, CEO & Founding Director of the Brave Foundation , an effort that assists teen parents, won $12,500 in the DO category.   Anna Weir, Founder & Leader of The Fireplace , a Christ-centred gathering for professional and emerging artists in the entertainment industries, won $12,500 in the category of FORM.  The People’s Choice award of $2,000 went to  Sono Leone, Founder and Director of Strong Women Talking , a ministry that addresses domestic violence within Indigenous communities.  All of the other women who pitched during the day also received $1,000.  In addition to cash prizes, the three category winners will become part of the 2019 cohort of The Hub at ADM. The Hub is a unique, year-long mentoring program designed to enable entrepreneurial Christian women to take their initiatives to the next level.       
   
     “ ADM is thrilled to support Christian women who are creative, innovative and passionate about serving the good of the world, ” 
   
  
 
     said Dr. Kate Harrison-Brennan, CEO of ADM. “It’s our privilege to come along side faithful women leaders in promoting theological formation as they engage with the public and do mercy and justice work, all in the name of Jesus.”              Find out about the category winners at our 3rd Annual Funding Event and read more about their initiatives…

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ADM Awards $60,000 in Funding for Initiatives to Christian Women Leaders

Anglican Deaconess Ministries has awarded over $60,000 to Australian Christian women from across the globe in its third Annual Funding Event on Wednesday, 19 September….

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      ADM Grant Recipient at the United Nations     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth, second from right, with with Anglican delegates from Japan, Madagascar, Botswana, north Sudan, DR Congo.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


       Ruth Brigden – who receives an ADM grant to work with emerging female Christian leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory – recently attended the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women (UNCSW62). Held on 12 to 23 March in New York, representatives from all over the world attended to discuss the main theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’.       Here Ruth describes her experience and key learnings for Australian Christians, especially in working with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters towards their greater social inclusion.   The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was a wonderful experience for me, despite the serious and weighty subject matter it dealt with.  It was wonderful to be part of a group of 20 Anglican women from places as far apart as Botswana and Japan, D.R. Congo and New Zealand, and Madagascar and Korea to talk about our work among rural women and girls, and to work together to think of ways ensure women and girls are given proper respect and recognition as image-bearers of our creator God.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth with with the Anglican delegate from north Sudan  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     In many places around the world, women and girls still do not have the same rights as boys and men to education, health or financial resources. In some parts of the world, women and girls are deliberately singled out for harsh and inhumane treatment simply because of their gender. In an address by human rights defender Sameena Nazir from Pakistan, we heard that in some villages, women pregnant with female babies are beaten or denied food because it is thought that they are responsible for the resulting gender of their child.  Women and girls living in rural parts of the world face significant disadvantage with respect to standard socio-economic measurements. The word ‘intersectionality’ came up many times during CSW62 side events and parallel sessions. Intersectionality refers to the interconnectedness of social categories like race, class and gender, where these overlapping systems result in discrimination or disadvantage experienced from more than one angle. Discussions about ‘intersectionality’ are highly relevant to Aboriginal women living in remote parts of the Northern Territory and, arguably, other parts of Australia.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth (left), with human rights defender Sameena Nazir (second from left) and two other delegates at CSW26  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     CSW62 afforded me a great opportunity to hear from Indigenous groups around the world about Indigenous women and intersectionality, some with very similar colonial histories to Australia. I attended sessions on the ‘Mass Incarceration of Rural and Indigenous Women in Canada’, hosted by the Institute for International Women’s Rights in Manitoba; ‘Violence Against Indigenous Women in Rural America’, by the Indian Law Resource Center; ‘Indigenous Women’s Rights’, by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and others. These sessions were stimulating and helpful in thinking about how the Anglican Diocese in the Northern Territory, and the wider Anglican Church, could be working with Aboriginal women toward greater social inclusion .         Discover more about ADM's programs and funding for women...

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ADM Grant Recipient at the United Nations

Ruth Brigden – who receives an ADM grant to work with emerging female Christian leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory – recently attended the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women (UNCSW62). Held on 12 to 23 March in New York, representatives from all over the world attended to discuss the main theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’.  

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