Girls Step Up

The Girls Step Up program

The longer teenage girls stay in school, the better life choices they make. This is the thinking behind the ‘Girls Step Up’ program run by The Smith Family in Darwin which is designed to offer girls in year 9 the chance to meet and get to know strong, deadly women and learn about their careers.

Last month Gabby Millar from Larrakia Land and Sea Rangers was involved in the program where she met with about 50 middle school students to talk about her career in conservation and land management. Gabby was a total hit with heaps of interest in her career and the choices she’s made.

Gabby got involved through Nicole Brown (former LNAC Deputy Chair) who invited her to be a part of the program. “The Smith Family reached out asking if there were other ladies that wanted to be involved, and I contacted my Indigenous Women’s network and Larrakia Nation to see if Gabby was interested” said Nicole.

If I can do it, you can too

There is plenty of evidence that shows when girls stay in the education system longer they make better life choices around family planning, earning capacity and workforce participation. This is especially important for Aboriginal girls who are shouldering the burden of reducing the gap of disadvantage.

Giving girls the opportunity to meet inspirational women has shown to be a good motivator to help girls understand the benefits of staying in school. If the mentors have achieved their dream job, then the students can too was the main message from the morning tea event held at the Hilton Darwin in late April.

A bit like speed dating

Students sat with guest mentors in groups of five where they had the chance to ask questions about their careers before moving onto the next mentor – a bit like speed dating, or speed networking.

The mentors were chosen to represent a variety of different areas and were encouraged to talk about their work history from school to present, how they started and to share tips on the lesson’s they’ve learned along the way.

From the girls

Feedback from the event was really positive – this is what some of them said:

“It made me want to strive to continue to reach for my goals”

“I really liked meeting everyone”

“I think I got more confidence in case what I wanna do fails”

“It really helped me open my eyes to seek out for different pathways”