In this week’s episode, Josh chats with Fiona Sanford, CEO of Flourish Girl who was the Winner of the Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award at the 2023 7News Young Achiever Awards Victoria.
Flourish Girl is helping build self-confidence, self-awareness and social connectedness. Flourish Girl is a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence charity. They deliver rites of passage programs to teenage girls and gender-diverse teens aged 13 to 18 years old. Since 2018, Flourish Girl has worked with over 12,500 teens across 84 schools. They delivered close to 150 workshops in 2022 alone.
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Hello and welcome to the Inspirational Australian’s podcast for your weekly dose of
inspiration. Today I’m joined by a guest and Fiona Sanford, who is the CEO of Flourish Girl. Fiona was
a twenty twenty three semifinalist in the Spirit Super Create Change Award. And Flourish Girl was actually
a winner in that same year in the Victorian Government Group Achievement in the
Community Award. Both of those being part of the 7News Young Achiever Awards Program. Flourish Girl, helping build self-confidence,
self-awareness and social connectedness. Flourish Girl is a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence charity. They deliver rites
of passage programs to teenage girls and gender diverse teens. Age thirteen to
eighteen years old. Since twenty eighteen Flourish Girl has worked with over
twelve thousand five hundred teens. Across eighty four schools. They delivered
close to one hundred and fifty workshops in twenty twenty two alone. So to tell us
whether that bio is still accurate. Welcome, Fiona, how you doing?
Good. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Yes, pleasure. Thank you. It’s,
it’s so special. Even just to reflect on,
on those statistics and how they have actually increased significantly in the last
couple of months, we have now worked with over seventeen thousand young people,
which blows my mind too to know that we’re having Such
a positive impact on that many young people and now in over one hundred schools
Across Victoria. So a bit of growth since early in the year, which has been really exciting.
That’s pretty huge because this by would have been
written early months of this year and to go from twelve thousand five hundred teens
that you’ve worked with to seventeen thousand over seventeen thousand. Is a bit of like exponential growth really.
Yeah, it’s been, it’s been pretty wild this year actually we’ve noticed kind of year on year we’ve
But the, I guess the demand for the programme at the moment and the need for what young
people are really struggling with and having
a safe space for them to share their challenges or their struggles and what they’re yeah, I guess,
I guess what they’re really going through underneath the surface is schools are
really noticing that that’s not so needed for, for young people right now.
So many questions about the growth, but I want to,
I’m mindful of not skipping ahead, you know, wanting to paint
a picture of what flower skill is for people who haven’t heard of it. So, you know,
you’ve given us a good little intro and breakdown on it. Can you tell us, you know,
a bit about how it started and the process I’m interested in is to actually do,
do you approach a school, do they approach you? Probably both.
Probably both. Yes I first I was founded in twenty eighteen by the
incredible Shani Dante. She grew up in Sydney and new South Wales and really
acknowledged that. There were so many challenges that young people were going through that she was noticing,
but didn’t actually realise that they weren’t normal. Yes, that was young people struggling with certain mental health challenges,
but that it, there was nothing coming at a preventative Level. So Afghanistan started to flourish,
go back in twenty eighteen, and then since then I was actually
a part of the very first workshop as a volunteer really?
Yeah. When we, when we did that in twenty eighteen, which is really special to just be
a part of the journey and really say flourish global then. And also knowing,
and noticing the changes in the young people. Obviously we’ve had covid. There’s
Such a lack of connection with young people. Yes, they’re on their phones so much. But really noticing this,
this change and I guess not stagnancy but change and challenges that
young people are going through around emotional intelligence around mental health. We’re having lots of conversations,
our facilitators going to the workshops and lots of Physio, lots of conversations around eating disorders,
self-harming suicide. And I guess two years ago,
maybe there were one or two conversations like that, but this is very,
very common. So what we’re really noticing is that as soon as young people are created and provided
a safe space where they can just have permission to be themselves and share what’s
really there for them. And Introduce to some tools in how to actually share about
what they’re going through a fire, shall we do a check in.
So it’s an opportunity for them to. Yeah,
really share what’s below the surface. And I think the thing that really makes our program special is our facilitators,
and I think that’s why this the award that we got at the start of the year really
just encapsulates everything that we do it for Large scale. And it’s about young
people leading young people. And our facilitators are eighteen to thirty year olds, who are really passionate about young people,
maybe have experience in psychology or studying some social work youth work. What
is really passionate facilitators who care about young people and they come in and
they share vulnerably and they share their stories about what are the journey that
they’ve been on Across their life. And it’s in those moments that the young people see
a role model that actually being open and vulnerable about what they’ve been through
and it gives them the permission to be like, Oh
hey, she’s kind of cool. And I can, I can do that and not be judged and I think that’s
a really beautiful part of what we do it FA,
she always provide that role model for these young people in the workshops.
Yeah, you touched on that at the start of what you’re saying about, you know, teens and you know,
all of us really are on our phones so much. And when you have that social media
presence, and that’s what you’re basing role models on, it’s not even, you know,
some influences, you know, vulnerable. And that’s great, but it’s really
a polished what they want to show you. And as you said,
when you get someone in front of you really sharing vulnerably and openly,
it’s gives them permission to do it just as you said. So that sounds like
a fantastic, amazing kind of program. Can I ask,
who are the typical facilitators and you know, how would they get involved?
Yeah, so our facilitators, as I said earlier, were aged eighteen to thirty every now and then we do
a recruitment drive. But always looking for facilitators who are or people who are
interested in helping young people to deliver these programs,
I think our facilitators are happy and comfortable to be vulnerable about
themselves to share about their challenges and to really showcase what’s possible
if we are actually sharing about what we’re going through,
and I think the one thing I love about our facilities is the love,
the passion and the energy that they bring into the space. We always kind of talk
about our facilitators being the, you know, when you go to
a family event and you’ve got that when you grow up, you’ve got that, like cool,
older cousin who you kind of want to hang around with. You want to listen to it,
you want to lead from like that’s kind of the vibe that we have with our facilitators,
that the young people can relate to them and look up to them. But it’s not someone
looking at like looking up to someone who seems really out of reach. And I think,
as you said on social media, like there’s all these people that Yeah,
there’s all these people that our own social media influences or sporting icons and these kind of things. But
a lot of them actually feel quite out of reach or they feel quite polished or they
feel like they’ve got it all together. Or they, they look like on, on social media that they’re, it’s just
a highlight reel of what’s actually going on in their life. And I think that’s why
our facilitators have Such a strength of like we,
we don’t mind if we mark up the words that we say in our workshop because it gives
the young people permission. It doesn’t matter if I lose my words and I’m like, Oh man,
I just don’t even know what I was saying Right now. Or I stuff out my sentence. Our
facilitators give the the permission for the young people to do the same and role
model that rather than having to look absolutely perfect, fully put together. And I think bringing that like diversity,
what the facilitators where an energy and some a slow pace. I’m a fast paced,
like really bringing and providing the young people with a variety of, of potential role models I think is
a really special part of what we do. And as you said, like they don’t necessarily have a powerful,
powerful role models like that on social media and are there some out there.
what we notice with the young people is more often than not that the people that
they follow on social media when we get them to think about it being like, hey,
when you think about social media,
how does it make you feel like the people that you follow if you’re following all
they see, all these people. When you look at their stuff, how does it actually make you feel?
And it’s really interesting to see the light bulb go off that go off in their head
and be like, Oh, actually
a lot of the people I follow when I look at
this stuff. It makes me feel bad or it
makes me judge myself because I’m not doing that. Or I’m not achieving in quotation
marks achieving as much as what they are. And I think, yeah, it’s just
a really powerful tool for them to be like, Oh,
I actually actually like that makes me feel bad. So why am I doing that?
Like giving them back the power to be like, Oh,
I don’t actually have to follow them anymore. Like I can follow them or I can meet
them or whatever it might be and surround themselves with people who are inspiring
and do lift them up and make them feel good. Not people that they think they should follow. Yeah,
it’s really interesting. I find that really interesting.
It is neat to do like the
Marie Kondo technique on our social media. Yeah. Does this person spark joy for me?
Yes. A good point and I love your the way you described your facilitators like the
cool, older cousin. Yeah. As soon as you
mentioned it, I was like, Oh yeah, that’s my cousin Sabrina.
I know you can literally like picture because I’ve
always had the cool music,
cool clothes and stuff. So am I going to be that like creative and interesting when I get older?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I love I love that. We get to provide that and I think like one of the
other things that facilities do so beautifully is yes,
we go into workshops and we have content that we’re going to deliver. But it’s also,
it’s very much what happens in the space and what the young people want to bring
into the space to the conversations that we have. Our facilitators are really able
to be flexible and kind of like mold what we’re talking about to what the young
people actually need in that moment. Because we’re,
we’re not here to come and preach at them or teach them. It’s like, hey, let’s just have
a conversation and explore some topics with you. And if we go in the direction to
judgment, which is something that we talk a lot about. Awesome. If we go into
a conversation about how we feel, pressured to be
a certain way. Awesome.
If we go into a conversation about, hey,
here’s the person you actually really want to be,
here’s the person you aspire to be awesome. Like let’s focus around that. So it’s
really being able to bold and wave to what the young people want and need in that
moment, which I think is something. Yeah,
not many organizations do. Maybe they have the specific content that they need to
get through. And I love that we just provide space for them to estimate the where they’re at.
Yeah, yeah, that’s really cool. So some questions about the participants who, you know,
come along? Is it held at the school? Usually?
Yes. So you ask the question before about where do we, how do we connecting with school? So yeah,
a lot of it has been either the schools will contact us or will do reach out to
certain schools as I said, where all Across Victoria. We’ve done quite a few schools in regional and rural Victoria,
which has been really special. And obviously majority of our programs are in metro Melbourne, but yet our,
all our programs are from high schools are seventy twelve. We do Level one, two,
and three programs. So Level one is all about like the self awareness. How am I
feeling? Can I check in with myself? What of the judgment I’m putting on myself?
Level two is about the relationships they’re having with other people. Whether that be romantic, whether that be friendships,
whether that be family and Level three is all about the community. So how do we
help them become leaders in their community? So yeah,
our young people are aged between thirteen and eighteen. And when foxtail started we, I guess the like,
gender diversity wasn’t in schools as much as what it is now. And I think it’s been
Such a special change and shift with our language and our learnings around,
especially in the last two years. How do we really provide
a safe space for gender diverse young people to be a part of our workshops?
Hence why in the last year or so we’ve changed our language and I think they go
through so many struggles, these gender, diverse teens. Anyway, how do we just break down and change the,
the expectations and the pressures that they might feel and how do we just create
a safe space for them to be? Because ultimately through our programs,
we just want young people to be themselves. And if we do that and give them the
permission to do that, then we’ve won. Like that’s amazing. And that goes for any young person that participates.
Well, you kind of must have read my mind because I wanted to ask you as well about,
you know, you mentioned the safe spaces and in schools.
How do you go about,
you know, creating a safe space in an environment where say, a teen is not that comfortable at school?
That could be a challenge.
Such a great question. Such
a great question. I think this is like credit to the facilitators that we have. I
think like two main things for me that when I think about facilitating and Making people feel safe and comfortable,
is through story and through play. And I think through story,
by sharing our story and sharing our vulnerability and allowing them to mirror that,
that’s an opportunity for them to feel really safe and comfortable. And then also
through play, it’s like giving them the permission to be
a child. We do icebreakers of this that we do games,
they do silly things. And again, like having that role model that they can be like, Oh,
I’ve never seen like an adult woman or an adult gender diverse person. Just like,
basically in front of other people and give the role model give the like
playfulness through that. And I think also the,
the way that we set up our programs, we very much take them on
a journey. We don’t just jump straight into the vulnerability. It’s like we take them on
a journey Across the full day.
So we’re lucky enough to work with them over
a full school day, which I know not many organizations get to. So it’s absolutely
a privilege that we get to take them on this journey Across the day. And our
workshops are really set to kind of bring the light and the fun and the story at
the start of the day to start to get them to maybe share
a little bit about themselves. But kind of in like a not
a hard way. Maybe it’s just like a little bit challenging,
but not something massive. And then as we step down into the middle part of the day
in between recess and lunch, that’s when we really encourage them to, through activity,
through dance movement through all different things that we do. Start to share more
about themselves and more about what they’re really going through. As I mentioned earlier,
one of the big conversations we have is around judgment. It’s really easy to feel
the pressures that they feel to talk about the pressures that they feel by society.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the Bobby baby,
or if my wife has been, I need to say, yeah,
it’s like, there’s this part of it. I’m sure you probably heard the monologue, I’ll say the monologue,
but the pressures that young people feel around like they must have
a big butt. Big boobs. Small waist, long hair. They have to like, be straight. They have to be white,
like all of these different pressures that they feel and it’s actually giving them
the space to share about these challenges. And in that moment, when we talk about that,
and we talk about the judgments that they feel on themselves that some of the
comments they have, I’m not good enough or I’m fat,
I’m ugly. My friends don’t like me. They’re just pretending. I’m not smart
enough. I’m going to make my family,
I’m not going to make my family proud all of these different pressures and it’s,
it’s the opportunity when the girls are like,
Oh my gosh. She feels like that. And so
do they. And she feels like that and wait.
I thought she had all the stuff together, like I thought she was perfect and but,
but they all feel like that. And it’s not like drop in that moment where these
young people actually realize that every single person in the room, adults as well, the staff members like the fans,
the staff members have an opportunity to shatter. And it’s that that moment when
the young people actually realize I’m not alone in what I’m going through. And I
think that’s Such a powerful moment for them to connect to each other,
not just on social media, not just on the phone, but actually really connect and realize, Oh,
I’m not in this alone. And then we start to have the conversation. Okay,
what can I do when I’m struggling,
or what can I do to support the people in this room to support the people around me?
And I think that’s like that movement and flow and we do it through different
activities. Speaking, dancing, writing on Post-it notes,
these kind of things provides them the opportunity to start to feel safer and start
to share. And it takes one incredible young person with so much courage to be the
first person to share. And then it’s a snowball of all that, all the shares from, from young people.
I think there’s lots of different ways that we make them feel safe,
but ultimately it’s them Making each other feel just as safe, which is the bit that I love.
Yeah, that’s always important as you were saying, you know, that role model Level,
but then that peer to peer support and then because that’s what’s going to be
lasting as well as their you know, they go to school with them every day. So yeah, support each other.
Yeah, yeah. For sure. I think that’s, that’s like Such an incredibly important part of the reintegration piece after
a workshop. Yes, we go through the journey together and then then we leave. And it’s like actually
it’s on them to continue the journey. It’s on Yes,
on the teachers. But it’s also also what are the tools that we can provide them
during the day when they’re struggling as an individual, what can they do to look after themselves?
Maybe it’s dance, maybe it’s listen to music, maybe it’s go for a run,
maybe it’s journey or whatever it might be. And then how do they support each other?
And I think it’s a really, it’s
a really beautiful list that they come up with an opportunity for them to really
lean on each other and ask,
ask something of each other because I don’t think they very often get the chance to do that.
I’m not sure what you can share cause obviously understand we’re talking
about safe space for young people then going out and sharing their story publicly. But are there any, you know,
stories that really come to mind or really spring out that you think you’d be able to share?
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously I would share names But there’s so many that come to my head.
I think we had a beautiful opportunity recently to be out in
a regional school and it’s really interesting being in regional rural schools
versus metro Melbourne schools. Like yes, they’re all going through something,
but the challenges are quite different. And we were in this regional school, some of our facilities were out there,
and this young person was sitting in the circle and kind of had been
a bit of like sassy, sassy girl,
not interested throughout the day. And had got to this metal section which I was
just talking to you about. And she started to share and she started to share about
what she was actually going through. Everyone in the room just thought she was the
bully. They thought she was like the mango, the one who was just angry at everyone,
angry at life.
And what actually happened was she shared about all the challenges,
the mental health challenges that she was going through,
the family challenges that she was going through back home. And no one in the room
knew she was sharing that she was like,
Oh yeah I just like I guess the way she coped was Like
throw throwing stuff out at other people and bullying other people or being mean to
other people without even realizing that she was doing it and so as she started to
share, everyone in the room was kind of like,
Oh this all makes sense. But then she went one step beyond that and she really took
responsibility for the impact that she’d had in that year and a half. And she pointed out to
a couple of girls and spoke directly to them and said,
I apologize for bullying. I apologize for these comments. I apologize for the
impact that it had on you. And the other girls would just like how special for them
to get an apology, but also for them to realize what was going on behind the scenes for that young
person. And I think we often as facilitators, we often talk about the young people that are like,
Super sassy or Superman or don’t want to be there. They’re the ones that need it
the most because they’re the ones that quite often don’t want to talk about what
they’re going through and therefore don’t necessarily have
a safe space to talk about what they’re going through. And I think, yeah, it was just a really,
really powerful opportunity recently for that young person to apologize and then
for everyone to really like, get behind her and say like, thank you. How can we help like, what’s next?
How do we like help you on this journey? And I think that just bringing together of,
of all the young people in the room is really special.
That is, and that sharing on its own is really powerful. And then combined with the,
you know, owning up and taking responsibility. Yeah. That, Yeah, that’s huge for,
for that person moving forward. So that’s a brilliant one.
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s interesting, like I have, I’ve had that
a couple of times where young people will actually apologize for what For their actions. But
like whether they apologize or not, it’s the opportunity that they have to share really about what they’re going
through. And there’s been a lot recently about body image and young people really sharing about the way that
they feel about their body and how their friends can imagine that they’re thinking those things. And I yeah,
have been in workshops recently where that’s really been a,
a pivotal moment for even friends like within friendship groups for them to see the that. Oh wow,
she’s really struggling and how can we help her with that. But also that we all
kind of feel like that, and like
a lot of the time we’re all judging our bodies. And so it’s allowing that person to
realize they’re not alone in that challenge. And they can lean on. They can lean on
other people for support if they need to.
Well, definitely just from doing this podcast and speaking with young achiever awards
participants, I’ve noticed that as an ongoing thing that people are really, you know,
facing imposter syndrome massively and feeling like that they’re not good enough.
And it could be for so many different reasons. It could be, you know, culturally, you know,
gender where they fit in the community and so you had the work you’re doing is
fantastic and it’s addressing that.
Yeah, yeah, thank you. I yeah,
I feel very blessed to be able to lead this organisation and the work that we’re
doing. I know everyone that’s involved in it from board Level all the way through
to the volunteers that we have are so passionate about just Making
And I think the other piece is Large scale is like,
how do we provide an opportunity, not just for the young people to feel safe,
but the staff members, the board members the, the community at Large, you know,
how do we uplift them and how do we encourage them to step up and learn and grow.
And it’s funny that you mentioned imposter syndrome like, man,
I’ve been feeling that I stepped into this role in January this year. And it’s been
a rollercoaster ride and it’s been amazing and there’s been so many highs. But it’s
also, yeah it’s, it’s tough to be like, Oh, I’m a woman,
I’m young and I’m leading this organisation and I want and I’m so desperate for it
to succeed. And I’m so passionate about it succeeding because of my own story and
my own journey. I was a gymnast at eighteen years,
but my own journey with the young people that I was surrounded by and their mental
health struggles. So I feel like everyone that’s involved in off globally has that
deep connection to what we’re doing and wanting to provide a safe space for young people and to provide
a space for all people involved in organization to really thrive and grow and flourish.
Yeah, very nice. All right, so you are day one, you know,
at the first workshop you said that’s awesome. And then this idea that becoming the
CEO, which is very special. So I had the pleasure of meeting ishani probably
a few years ago now at our young achiever worlds event in New South Wales. And then
was so so happy to see fluttershy nominated and things like that. Obviously you
nominated. So has that journey been, you know, becoming CEO Ashanti recently, you know, founder stepping down,
can you walk us through that that must have been really challenging.
Yeah. Gosh, I feel like it’s been Such a journey to think like twenty eighteen was what?
Five years ago it actually just blows my mind that that was the first workshop I
feel like it was maybe last year. It’s just got all gone so quickly.
Yeah. Like covid was last year and then the year before that was twenty eighteen. So
yeah. Like it actually just blows my mind. Yeah. So I think like my journey along
a Large scale has been through volunteer, facilitating,
then stepping into facilitating and like early on it was that was only
a group of like five of us. That was a shiny, myself, and a few other incredible facilitators. And yeah,
then we’ve kind of just grown and year on year, as I said earlier,
just growing little bit by little bit until covid hit and then it just went absolutely mental after covid,
which is so beautiful because it means schools were really investing in the young
people and investing in their wellbeing and I saw that shift at the end of twenty
twenty I came on as head of programmes of Large scale. So it was the like liaison
with the school booking. The school programs really having an opportunity to share
and grow far shall I read by the end of twenty twenty. I said to ishani,
you need help. You can’t do this anymore by yourself. Like you’ve got these
incredible visions. But she was trying to do everything and I just literally was
like, you need help.
I want to help like,
let me do this. So I stepped into the role and eventually just grew from there and I think, yeah,
the journey with ishani has been like amazing to see her absolutely like flourish
in Large scale to see her grow and evolve and get to the point where it’s like,
hey, actually I feel like I’ve given everything and she really had like,
she’s given everything she has over the last, like five, six, seven years of this beautiful idea. And now it’s,
it’s beyond her. It’s bigger than her. It’s like now we’ve work with seventeen
thousand young people and that just like blows my mind every time I say it. And so,
yeah, I think it’s like it’s been so many things.
a challenge like saying ishani step away. She’s also one of my really closest
friends, so I don’t get to see her every day,
which is hard and I don’t get to speak to her every day like we message and stuff
but. But seeing her go from and I think this is
a really powerful opportunity that founders quite often don’t get to do or don’t do.
She actually realised when she’d given absolutely everything and when she wanted
to move on to her next chapter. And I think the way she did that and the power she
in, in Such a powerful way it set flower show up for success. But it also set up herself
herself for success. And in turn it set me up for success to be able to take over
this organization. Yeah, and I think like taking over CEO that has been
a whole rod. I’ve loved it. There’s been so many challenges. We’re still a startup,
so there’s lots of challenges coming with the startup. It’s very fast paced and
yeah, like I think at the moment like trying to recruit facilitators,
that’s our biggest challenge because we just need more facilitators to hit the
demand for the amount of programs that we’re doing. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been
a really exciting opportunity. I feel like I’ve leveled up in so many ways. And in the past three, sorry,
five months we’ve employed three more staff members to full time. And we’ve also
just brought on head of mental health in impact who’s a clinical psychologist, Helen, which is yeah,
which is just highlighting and like the reason we did that was because with the
mental health challenges these young people going through before covid. Yeah, those mental health challenges, but
a lot of it was quite whether we didn’t know about it or whether people didn’t talk
about it, but it was quite a lot. Whereas now that what the facilitators are hearing and yes,
we’re really taking the initiative to be like, okay, we need
a psychologist on board and we need them to help deliver and create the programs.
Evaluate the programs help support the young people help support the facilitators
help support the staff members who are hearing some challenging things. And I think
that’s just some really powerful and proud things that like things that I’m really
proud of over the past couple of months in really building the organization and how
do we set it up for success? Moving forward.
So as CEO, you know, some people, you know, if they’re younger listeners might think that sounds very fancy, older,
more jaded the citizens would know that CEO probably never gets any work done
because there’s just too much. Yeah. Things to answer and pretty much meetings to
attend. So what’s a typical day for you like Fiona?
Oh, I feel like it changes so much day or day.
I think the,
the biggest thing that I’ve probably become aware of is how important it is to look
after your staff. And we’re Such a small team at the moment. There’s, as I said before,
full time staff staff including myself and we’ve got our head of programmes,
he’s coming on as two days and then we’ve got twenty facilitators as well. So I think for me,
a lot of it is Making sure that the staff are okay. Making sure the facilities are
set, Making sure that I’ve, yeah,
really set everyone else up for success in order for me to do the other things that
I need to do. As a start up, there’s
a lot of governance type things like really setting the foundations of the
organisation working through strategy. Where are we going? Where do we want to go?
Who are the people we want to impact?
I’m also like applied for grants and awards and fundraising. So there’s lots of
different hats that I have at the moment. I’m really grateful for
a couple of the partnerships that we’ve had. We’ve got to empower. We’re part of
that collective which has been incredible for the donation,
but also probably more so the connections and opportunities I’ve given we’ve also
just partnered with with temba in the most recent partnership agreement. And yeah, that’s
a really exciting opportunity for us to develop our facilitators even more. Yeah,
so I feel like day to day, it kind of is a bit all over the place,
depending on what’s needed. And when I think someone said to me once about being
a CEO, it’s choosing choosing and knowing that everything is a priority. But what’s the most like the biggest priority?
And I think that was like,
that was so important because there is so many things in a start up and as
a CEO that you have to look at. But what is the number one priority? And I think for me,
the number one priority is our staff and our programs and how do we best support them? So
yes, the challenge with a start up and any smaller organization that’s really doing big things. Is that the
work list, the things to do is actually unless like, it’s legitimately you could work twenty four hours
a day on it. And so that’s so true what you’re saying about picking everything is
a priority. But what is the absolute?
Yeah, we, we use this,
one of our board members told this to me early on. It was like three glass bowl
three probable. So glass balls are, what are the three things this week that you have to do otherwise?
If you drop them, they’ll smash and then the rubber balls,
it’s like three things. What are the things that three things that you need to do
this week? And if you don’t do them, it’s not great,
but they’ll bounce back and you can get to them next week. And I love that. I was
like, that just makes my to do list so much easier. Yes, it’s
a never ending to do list. And I think also just having that in your mind that you
actually can’t get to the end of the to do list because there’s always going to be
more things. I say this. And I also need to remind myself of this because sometimes I’m like, Oh,
it’s so long. But I think one of the challenges that I’ve really felt and faced
recently is actually spending time looking after myself. As you said, like, as
a CEO or a startup, or even just like anyone doing any role,
it’s so easy if you’re passionate about something,
to get and allow it to consume your life. And I have like,
there has been times this year when I’ve been so consumed in absolutely everything for scale and realized, Oh,
I’m actually not even looking after myself. I’m not exercising, I’m not going for a walk. I’m not generally,
I’m not meditating.
I’m not seeing my family or seeing my friends and so that’s been
a really big challenge and I think something that’s really important for us to talk
about because unless we’re looking after ourselves,
we can’t look after the organization and like there have been times where I’m like
I get really sick and I’m like what I think about it. Oh,
that’s because I wasn’t actually doing the things to look after myself. So a reminder for myself, but also
a reminder for everyone listening. Yeah. What are the little things that you can do
every day to actually look after yourself? Maybe it’s going for a walk,
maybe it’s being in the sun. Maybe it’s just sitting down having
a coffee and taking a few minutes, just a brief. Yeah.
Some great insights, they actually wrote down the three gospels and through three, both.
good. It’s good. It’s very good.
It’s really, it’s really helpful with staff members too, because like them,
it’s like you’ve got your list. But then everyone has their lists. And it’s how do
you just be Super clear, what are the priorities and how can you help like your staff members or other
people in the organization to know and help prioritize what their goals are?
Yeah. So i’mnot, definitely not in your target audience of participants. Not being
a teenage girl or gender diverse teen myself. But every day
a lot of what you’re saying is, is really speaking to me and I’m getting
a lot out of this chat myself. So have you ever done anything for corporate teams
or is that just too far removed from you know, your number one goal?
Yeah, we haven’t specifically, we’ve done a few like we’ve dabbled in
a few different things. We offer teacher training and parent information sessions,
where we talk about what it is that we’re going to be talking about with the young people,
give the parents some tools that they can use. And also the teachers like what are
the things that they can do and the knowledge that we have that we can pass that on
to them outside of a workshop. Because ultimately if we, if we just work with
a young person, that’s awesome. But as soon as they leave that room,
or potentially as soon as they leave the community of the school and go back into
a normal day to day or night time with their family and their family potentially
don’t know what they’ve just done. They’ve had a transformational experience,
but then they go back into normal life and it can be quite jarring. So how do we
set the young person up for success around the like the whole community around them
that be the teachers, the parents and the young people. So we’ve done
a little bit of those kind of things. We’ve done out teacher training and parent
information sessions and still offer those. Yeah, it’s an interesting look. I feel like absolutely everyone can benefit from these
conversations. We did a session with meca,
some of the meca retail staff in New South Wales yesterday just online for an hour
and it was really powerful. Introduce them to
a check in like the most basic tool that we use it for our school is
a check in. And it’s like each person you’re in a pair.
One person has two minutes,
maybe three minutes to share. How are you really going?
And then the other person is not allowed to say anything. You just have to listen.
And then once that person’s finished, we switch over and it’s an opportunity for, for people to really, Yeah,
have this stage just to share what’s there. But also know that they can share
what’s below the surface. So we did that with the Mecca Mecca the other day,
which was really powerful and really beautiful. And is it like when you’re in
a corporate or a fast moving organisation? It’s so important. But no, I don’t like,
I think we’re so focused on the young people and they’re in that they need it so
much. So I don’t necessarily think we’re going to go into adults. Other than
helping them have the knowledge to support young people. I think that’s our nature, but as, as you said,
like this work is so important and we’ll continue to shed learnings from the young
people and what we’re doing on social media or on podcasts or whatever it might be
to help everyone because yet you’re right,
like that sometimes what I need to be like, damn, I need to be in
a workshop because I’ve forgotten to look after myself or I’ve forgotten to reach
out to this person because I know they can help me or whatever it might be. So I
think it’s, it’s, yeah, constantly coming back to like, whenever perfect,
whenever going to be perfect, but how can we continue,
continue to surround ourselves with people who are going to encourage us to be the
best versions of ourselves. And how do we take that responsibility on ourselves as well? Yeah.
So you mentioned earlier that, you know, there’s so many challenges and you know,
for you to focus on but as an organization, what’s probably your biggest challenge you’re facing right now? Yeah.
Oh, biggest challenge I think we’re facing right now is having enough facilities to
deliver on the amount of programs that we want to be doing and the,
the demand that’s coming from the schools. I think that partly comes from needing
more funding to support the facilities and their growth. We can’t just throw in any
old person with no training because they’re holding Such sacred spaces for these
young people. So Making sure that the facilitators feel really safe and supported
to deliver really powerful content. So I think that’s one challenge that we have is.
Yeah. Not wanting to, I’m kind of, I guess, restricting ourselves a little bit,
not wanting to expand too quickly and losing the quality and the impact of what
we’re actually doing. But it can only increase more facilitators by increasing the
program numbers at the moment. So it’s a little fine line balance. It’s a bit of
a like cycle that we’re in. But yeah, when we get
a little bit of funding like we did for like ten,
but that was really powerful. And I think the other thing like the biggest
challenge that we’re facing kind of comes down to the conversations that the
facilities are having with the young people it’s,
it’s so much heavier than it’s ever been. So it’s taking an emotional toll on some
of the facilitators. It’s on the staff members, it’s how do we really look after ourselves and our team?
So I talk about the like, what are we doing to look after ourselves every single day?
Because I think, yeah, it’s Making sure that they’re set up for success and looking after themselves,
Hence why we’ve just brought on our head of mental health and impact to really
support in that space. And then yeah, I think always as a start up and a charity,
the challenges wanting to get more donations and more funding and more partnerships and, and looking to Yeah,
ways to expand into and work with organizations that are really like minded.
There are so many incredible organizations out there. I’ve met some through the
awards even when and like we presented at one of the other organizations it was in our category. Oh really?
Yeah. Strive Brianna from Strive health initiative with University of Melbourne. We
went to the health and wellness day health day. I think it was what it was called
which was supporting the Uni students at Melbourne and we all different organisations,
we were there to talk about health and we came along and we had conversations and I
think it was just a really how do we continue to partner with and work with other organisations and
like top Level each other and, and platforming each other rather than be in competition. How do we collaborate?
Yes, I think that’s a really important part of our next journey. Who are you working with and how can
we platform each other?
D, trying to think of the right word here, but you know,
a lot of startup culture or people advising startups is, are at scale, grow, expand, and you’ve got almost the,
not the opposite that you’re really focused on. Just Making sure that everyone is
looked after that you’re doing what you do really well. So do you find it hard
sometimes to get that kind of expert advice or you know,
external mentorship because others may not be on the same kind of path that you are?
Yeah, I think it’s been interesting. We had
a strategy day in March and I think that gave so much clarity because from a board Level,
but also like our exact team.
It was very much we are based in Victoria for the
next three years unless we go like,
unless there’s amazing things that happen like to really have that clarity that our
focus is all the young people in Victoria. I think that was
a really powerful choice. And step that we took to not scale too quickly
and potentially lose the impact of what we were doing and lose the quality of what
we were doing. But to really focus on what we’re doing in Victoria.
And I think
like as, as I’ve said, our facilities are absolutely assets. So as soon as we scale Super wide. And again
that’s, that’s a challenge that we’re going to have eventually. What’s like,
how do we do that and how do we do that in
a way that we don’t lose money or invest in too much?
But I think yeah, at the moment I think that was
a really powerful opportunity for us to just be like, no,
we’re focusing on schools in Victoria for the next three years. And I think with that clarity,
it means that anyone that we bring in anyone I speak to in mentorships or
partnerships or any of the other staff that reach out to like,
we’re Super clear on where we stand. And it allows for, I guess, like
a conversation to be had that is and then like,
brought out into different areas in saying that I think I’m always open to that
changing the three years. But I think it would only change if there was
a significant opportunity that we had that was not going to lose the impact of what
we’re actually doing now. And the quality of what we’re doing. And I think that’s
actually advice that we have got from some of our partners and organisations is don’t,
don’t scale too quickly because they’ve seen the impact of what happens when small organisations scale too quickly. Yeah,
I think it’s actually been interesting. It’s actually been the opposite. It’s been
like, yeah, don’t scale too quickly because we are in a we are in
a position that’s really healthy at the moment and yet wanting to continue like
this. So much growth that we can have in Victoria at this point. Still
so you mentioned working with Strive one of the fellow finalists in the Victorian
government group achievement in the community wall, which is awesome. So cool. You know, you had
a really good group and it did seem like and obviously you won. But it did say like
a very celebratory, happy affair that night at the event held at the Sofitel in Melbourne. Can you walk
us through your experience with that you know when you up there as a finalist?
Were you happy with that not expecting to win or how was the experience that night?
Oh my gosh to be honest
I thought we weren’t even expecting to get into a finalist. So the fact that we were
a finalist was like absolutely incredible. I was the first person to be called up
as a finalist to get your certificate. And as per the instructions of the day,
I went to sit back down and then I realised everyone else was actually still
waiting over the other side for the final.
Like for the winner to be cool.
Yeah. Some people went rogue.
Yeah. And I was like, okay, am I supposed to be back over there?
I don’t know. And then all my type was like,
I think you should be back and I was like, Oh, okay,
well I may well walk back like it’s probably unlikely we’re going to win,
but I can celebrate with everyone else. I was at the I was at the back of all the
groups and went out and I go go go. I was literally just like where did they legit
do which is weird where I was so surprised like not surprised in what we’re doing.
The impact that we’re having, but man, there were so many incredible organisations and so many incredible groups. I don’t
I have, I don’t know how they chose because like Across the whole lot I was sitting there
listening to all the different finalists. And I genuinely like there are so many
people out there that we’re doing so many incredible things. And I think that was
my biggest takeaway from the night was that there are so many incredible young people out there Making
And I love that they got the platform and we got the platform as well
for our show, but that so many young people actually got
a platform to shine and to be recognised for all the work that they’re doing. I
know a lot of them it’s the work that they’re really, really passionate about. And yeah, it was just
a beautiful opportunity for people to be recognised and honoured and celebrated for
that passion that they have. But the date willing willingness to make
And I think for us at far scale,
like that recognition was something that we’d never experienced before. It was the
first time that we’ve as an organisation got an award like this and I think, yeah,
I was in shock on stage. I couldn’t believe it. And I was really privileged at the
same time to represent so many other organisations up there in the category to win. And I think yeah,
just celebrate the incredible facilitators that we have. I said in the speech that Yes, yes,
this recognises all that we’re doing. But it’s the award really recognises the
incredible facilitators and their, their passion, their expertise,
the work that they’re doing and actually providing those safe spaces for young
people. So yeah, I was very shocked, but absolutely honoured. And it’s been
a really beautiful celebration that we’ve had for our facilitators as well.
Well, you mentioned you don’t know how the judges pick, tell you what that is. A really tough category to,
to judge because it’s our only one really that has, you know,
groups of people. And it can be tricky sometimes because you have the conversation
of woe and there’s the young achiever awards. The participants are young,
but it’s not led by a young person. Is that eligible?
So there’s all these conversations and I think where flourish girl was so Such
a strong candidate is it’s so youth led. Yeah, it’s obviously the participants are all young people,
so it just fits the bill and you have Such
a great impact Across so many schools and so many young people. So it’s
a real credit to what you do.
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, it was a real privilege to be awarded the award and yeah,
I think to continue to platform the work that we’re doing. I think that was through
other partners being able to share the award and yeah,
really being recognized for all that we’re doing and. And everything that we hope
to do in the future as well. So there’s so much more that we want to be doing and
helping so many more young people. So yeah,
well, before we wrap up, do you have one final question for you, Jonah? So, you know,
you’re obviously on the inspirational australian’s podcast and you know you’ve
inspired me today. I’ve been taking some little notes here that I’ll carry into my
daily to do list with the three glass and three rubber balls was excellent. I loved
the reminders about, you know, taking time for yourself to make sure your own health,
physical and mental is really good because without that,
you can’t then be at your best to support your staff and the people you’re willing
to serve. So I guess there’s a long lead up to my question about what is it Fiona,
that inspires you. Whether that’s a person you know a philosophy on
a day to day or wider? What inspires you?
Oh, I feel like that’s Such a beautiful question and the first question that comes to my head,
the first few people that come to my head of my parents, my mom and my dad,
and my dad was there on the night of the award and it was so beautiful, he had
a pin that he, he’d been awarded previously and I asked him, I was like, what’s the PIN for?
I have never seen that before. And he goes,
it was an award he received twice and the award was recognizing service above self.
And I remember being there and hearing that and just being like far out,
that feels so relevant to how I feel about flower show and yes,
it service above self and without the detriment of self. I think that’s an important
add on that I would say.
But I think, yeah,
just the way that my parents have always supported those in need. Always been
willing to go above and beyond for Yeah, the people around them,
the sporting clubs like my my mom was involved in my gymnastics club for years and
years and years. She did so much volunteer work but I think, yeah,
just the love and care that they have for other people. And I think I’m really
privileged to have had so much of that ingrained in me. And they’re the
people that really inspired me to make
a difference and to be able to grow and support so many young people Across
Victoria and partly Australia and hopefully wider than that Across the world. And
yeah, I think for me it’s connecting to what is my purpose and what is my why?
And my why is because I don’t want young people to suffer with mental health
challenges. I want all young people, I want all people,
but I want all young people to be able to have permission to be themselves in all
aspects of their life, whether that’s mental health and talking about it,
whether that’s sport that they want to play. Whether that’s
a job that they want to do, whether that’s sexual orientation,
whether that’s like the people that they love, like whatever it is, I want people,
I want all young people to be themselves and to thrive being themselves. So yeah,
I’m grateful that I have that connection through my parents.
That it amazing parents because you know, we, those of us who,
who have had amazing loving supporting parents. We’re very lucky and I think
sometimes we may never truly know how lucky we are. So that’s a wonderful, beautiful answer. Fiona, thank you.
Yeah, I absolutely agree with that and I know the privilege in that as well. And I love
that. I get to use that privilege in a positive way.
Yeah. For sure. So where can people connect with flourish?
Gayle to find out more that maybe to apply to be a
facilitator or something like that.
Yeah, absolutely. So you can follow us on Instagram at FA show on the school. There’s
a link in there to our website,
but the website is flower scout dot org. So jump on there. We have applications
open. You can join our team and there’s a place that you can apply for being
a facilitator which is looking for. So no matter when you’re listening to this,
please please if you’re interested apply and then on LinkedIn as well, we’re starting to post
a little bit more. We’re getting better at posting on LinkedIn and getting better
at posting on social media. So yeah, there’s some really exciting things happening in the next couple of months and
start of next year. So definitely stay tuned and follow the journey. But we’re
really excited where everything’s going and would love to connect or to hear how you found the podcast. And yeah,
all of that kind of stuff. So
wonderful. Thanks for your time this morning, Fiona, I really appreciate it and yeah, thoroughly enjoyed the chat.
Amazing. Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share so much about our show.
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