Our Survivor School has changed incredibly in Q1 as we launch our new e-learning platform nationally. In this newsletter, we will share all the news and finish with ideas on how you can help. So grab a cuppa and enjoy.
A NEW Freedom School E-learning Platform
If you are new to us, the back story is, that during COVID we had to be able to continue our services to vulnerable survivors without meeting them face to face as we have for the last 7 years. Their anxiety was heightened in the early months of COVID and we can all relate to that! So we quickly got Zoom going, but it is not a cybersecurity platform and we knew it had to be the interim measure. Therefore, with some funding from amazing donors and the City of Sydney, we purchased our own e-learning platform and begun moving our curriculum on to it. That in itself had many challenges.
Firstly, trauma-informed teaching is usually easy because the teacher can read body language to see if the client is not responding well to the class. As a result, the teacher can adjust the lesson with the survivor’s level of English, trauma, and anxiety levels. So our usual curriculum had to change. It had to be broken into bite-size bits, reduced to very basic English, and lots of videos and interactive quizzes to check learning objectives are met. This required a lot of work and we are so excited it is all completed and classes can continue.
The second challenge was that most survivors did not have laptops or access to data. Once again, with the generosity of donors, we purchased 10 new laptops to add to our 10 old ones and we purchased Optus data dongles. So we selected the survivors with the most anxiety and trauma giving them priority to access.
The third challenge was, and still is, troubleshooting computer issues, training them in the new platform, and helping with the courses. That leads us to where we are now in 2021…….
We have started this year with a new team of trauma-trained education coaches who meet with survivors living in their area/town/region and they coach them with whatever they need help on. Be it ‘IT’ issues on the laptop, or not understanding some of the class. What is exciting about this new way of running our school is that we are no longer Sydney-centric and can help survivors of modern slavery in any State of Australia. (as long as we have a trained volunteer education coach there!)
As a result, we are now building a volunteer movement around Australia. People can now volunteer in their local area, raising awareness about the issue of modern slavery and be on a team that supports survivors identified in their area. Therefore Q1 has been a busy time, training over 40 new volunteers, setting up new procedures and policies as well as applying for grants to fund the many laptops, phones and data needed.
Data is a huge expense for us. It is about $25 a month per survivor. We definitely need plenty of ‘data sponsors’ to make this expansion a reality. If you would like to help: click here. If you would like to volunteer on one of our local teams: click here.
The Survivor School continued to engage Survivors in 1:1 Tutoring Face to Face and online, and well as running personal development workshops such as Yoga, Swimming, Mindfulness and Equine Assisted Learning. Our monthly Equine Assisted Learning program continues to have positive outcomes for our Survivors, assisting them with self-regulation, managing stress/anxiety, as well as confidence, leadership, communication, problem-solving, and establishing healthy relationships. If you would like to learn more about how our equine classes help click here.
Five of our past ‘alumni’ Survivors have now had babies, with 4 more pregnant. To find a partner and have a baby is an incredible testimony to the long-term success of our program as well as the hard work they have put in to rebuild their confidence and manage their anxiety. We will continue our ongoing Parenting Support of these young mums. We have a few needing new clothes, toys and we even need two car seats. If you would like to help contact us here or donate to help here. To contribute to buying the car seats, click here.
Employment and Employment Partners
Four Survivors transitioned into employment during Q1. And one is even starting her own fashion design business. We have partnered with two new businesses that will be providing employment pathways for our survivors in the future. This is proving to be a great ‘remediation’ process for companies that need to comply with the Modern Slavery Act.
Our Survivor Experience Manager, Eleni continues to be on the Steering Committee for the Assistant in Nursing (AIN) Program collaboratively managed by NSW TAFE and NSW Dept of Health. This program will open its next intake in May for a small number of students to being their studies in July for the subsidised AIN program, including candidates from the Freedom Hub. Our Survivor who successfully completed this program last year is currently working full-time as an AIN.
A NEW PAGE
for Survivor Needs, Fundraising, and Events
While hospitality and events are still being impacted by Covid, we need to rely on donations and grants to keep the Survivor School going.
So we have launched a NEW donor needs, fundraising, and events page.
It is a place where we post specific needs for survivors and raise money for specific survivor projects. This page is also designed so that anyone wanting to run a fundraiser for us can do it easily. Plus we will also load our own fundraising events on this page.
Take a look and see our current Survivor needs just click here.
Advocacy and Awareness Raising
Engagement in outreach and advocacy activities included a presentation at St. Andrews Cathedral School for a group of 170, year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, all of whom were very engaged in the topic of slavery and creating awareness of how they can assist in combating slavery in Australia. We also spoke at Emmanuel School in Randwick to all the year 9 students. This is a yearly engagement around their Passover time to reflect on slavery past and present. This school has book two more awareness-raising events this year and a fundraiser.
Our CEO is has taken up some new roles in 2021 in advisory/roundtable positions of influence:
NEW Positions in 2021:
- National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery (NAP) Monitoring & Evaluation Advisory Group
- Commonwealth 8.7 Network Management Committee – Representative for the Pacific Region
- NAP Forced Marriage Protection Order Advisory Group (FMPO)
CONTINUING roles from previous years:
- Global Foundation Roundtable with the Governor-General
- Westpac Safe Children, Safer Communities Advisory Group
- Queensland Network to End Slavery & Trafficking (QNEST) Committee Member and Sub Committee Member for MSA group
- NSW Forced Marriage Network
- National Anti-Slavery Network
These roles place The Freedom Hub in places that represent the survivor’s voice, and this helps keep policy-making decisions victim-centric.
As you can see a lot has been going on, which is why this newsletter is so late! We will be doing our Q2 report before we know it.
Finally, sharing our articles & blogs or our posts on Linkedin and FB is small but significant in helping raise awareness.
Thank you so much for all your support.