Founder Jessica Brown’s career began teaching high school music in the South Western Suburbs of Sydney. She built a very successful performing arts unit which gained her a state award for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards. Jessica had a great rapport with the most challenging of students, and could see from their behaviour that they needed extra support and quite often someone to help them pick up the pieces of their lives. Too often she saw the devastating effects of abuse and neglect and the detrimental impact it had on learning, the development of social skills and the ability to reach ones potential. Often their parents were also victims of abuse and neglect.
Determined to break this cycle, Jessica founded Life Changing Experiences Foundation in 2003 to help combat the mammoth task of breaking the cycle of deeply entrenched inter-generational social issues including abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction, mental health, domestic violence and teen pregnancy. With girls being 2-3 times more likely to be sexually abused than boys*, Jessica set out to empower young vulnerable girls to make positive choices for a better future for themselves and the next generation, through her mentoring and resilience based program SISTER2sister.
Eleven years later, the SISTER2sister program has changed the lives of over 400 girls in New South Wales and Victoria. With a proven track record of positive long term change there is high demand for Jessica’s program to roll out throughout Australia, and even internationally.
Jessica’s vision to help Australia’s most marginalised girls grow into strong independent woman capable of taking their place in the world has earned her many awards including NSW Woman of the Year-People’s Choice Awards 2013, NSW Finalist for the Australian of the Year Awards 2011, and the Pride of Australia Medal-Role Model category in 2006.
The Foundation was joined by Marnee May in 2009, who now coordinates the SISTER2sister program. For the past five years the duo have been the engine room behind the Foundation’s success. The Foundation has won numerous prestigious awards including the City of Sydney Business Awards-Community and Social Services category 2011, and the NAPCAN Play Your Part Award for Outstanding Initiative in 2013. In 2011, Jessica and Marnee co-produced a cook book called “Cooked With Love-Recipes My Mother Taught Me” to raise money for the Foundation, and most recently Marnee paved her way as an emerging young leader as a NSW Finalist in the 2014 Pride of Australia Medal Awards in the Inspirational category.
The duo were joined by part time Welfare Manager and counsellor Linda Beuzeville in 2013 who oversees the wellbeing of the girls in the SISTER2sister program and facilitates the Foundations Butterfly Support Services program. In addition to her counselling role Linda has volunteered for the past five years, and still currently volunteers as a Team Leader and Advisor for the SISTER2sister program. Her commitment to the community earned her a NSW Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012.
Despite being an award winning organisation, the Foundation’s biggest and most outstanding achievements are the long term positive benefits of the SISTER2sister program and the impact it has on young marginalised Australian women. This includes girls being the first in generations to hold down a job, or the first in their family to complete high school. Most importantly the program now has an 11 year proven track record of breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect in the Australian Community. Still to this day Founder Jessica Brown stays in touch with each and every one of the girls who have been through the SISTER2sister program.
*Bravehearts Inc-Child Sexual Assault Facts and Statistics Report December 2012