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Empowering indigenous girls to be change agents

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When women have access to education and healthcare, communities thrive and nations can prosper. If their needs are met and recognised, women can be powerful forces for change in the world.

To help celebrate International Women’s Day, Nestlé Australia announced that it will award a $60,000 scholarship to help indigenous girls pursue tertiary education.  The scholarship, to be spread over three years, will give selected students from the Role Models and Leaders Girls Academy (RMLA) the opportunity to train for a career in the area of nutrition, health and wellness.

Since 2010, Nestlé Australia has supported RMLA, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to develop and empower indigenous girls through leadership, sport and education and break down the barriers that keep them from attending school, enabling them to reach their full potential. 
The goal of RMLA is to create an environment within schools where girls receive intensive mentoring and support that allows them to graduate from Year 12 and continue with further study.
There are now nearly 2500 girls across 38 Academies and in the past six years, Year 12 graduation rates have increased by 76%. 

RMLA’s Chief Operations Officer, Terry Boland, welcomed the scholarship, highlighting the role of education in improving the quality of life for indigenous girls. He said the scholarship will be awarded to up to three students at the end of 2017 who have graduated from Year 12 and qualify to enrol in tertiary education. “We are all about helping indigenous girls create a future The Nestlé AYPD Scholarship is an exciting new opportunity to support successful Girls Academy students to pursue tertiary education in nutrition, health and wellbeing – and that’s a very broad and exciting field,” he said. “Nestlé is a key partner in our work with indigenous girls and our mutual commitment to bring about improved education, nutrition and outcomes.”

Katrina Koutoulas Head of Market Wellness for Nestlé Australia, said increasing school retention rates of indigenous girls and developing career pathways was a priority focus for Nestlé’s Aboriginal Youth Development Program. “It’s very fitting that we announce this on International Women’s Day because we cherish our partnership with RMLA, and it’s a key pillar in our Aboriginal Youth Development Program,” she said. “Our partnership is not only rewarding professionally, but for me personally, it’s intensely powerful and enriching to help these young women pursue their dreams and knowing they can carve out a fulfilling future for themselves.”

Over the past six years, Nestlé’s support for the Girls Academy program has included:
A Mother Daughter Nutrition Program aimed at bringing girls and their mothers together around healthy cooking and nutrition. 
Providing professional development training and nutrition training for Academy leaders
Providing training for Year 12 graduates in communication and nutrition as well as leadership training.
Developing a cook book and a portion plate specifically to help guide Indigenous girls’ nutrition.
Providing structured nutrition programs in all Academies. 
Goal is to reach 2,500 girls by the end of 2017 in over 30 Academies.