Vivian Stavis:Lillian Howell Project: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Brave fighter helps vulnerable girls rewrite their future
Enthusiastic. Passionate. Caring
Vivian Stavis had been the manager of the Lillian Howell Project (Lillian’s) for only a year when state reforms cut off funding.
Fearful for the vulnerable young women in her care, Vivian led a persistent lobbying campaign and a change.org petition that convinced the NSW government to backtrack. As a result, she received the Edna Ryan Award for community activism and feminist activity.
Four years later, Lillian’s is going strong, providing supported housing for up to 11 teenagers at a time. They learn how to lead fulfilling lives and are helped to heal from sexual abuse, neglect, homelessness or family violence.
“Lillian’s allows the girls to follow their dreams and to rewrite their future,” says Vivian, who is excited to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.
“It is amazing to be recognised for the work by the wider community. It’s a real honour. For a long time, we had a very low profile. But the only way we can keep on thriving and providing opportunities for the girls is to garner community support.”
Vivian has been working in community services for 15 years but says her best job ever is at Lillian’s “supporting and empowering young women to be the best version of themselves”.
Vivian’s work also includes an outreach program. “We provide workshops in schools, promoting awareness about the causes of homelessness and providing information about services available for young girls.”
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Lillian’s will use its grant to run workshops on wellbeing and resilience for 100 vulnerable young girls and women. Activities will teach the girls to thrive mentally and socially, help them to be more safe and secure within themselves and enhance their self-esteem.
“We want to run these workshops for the girls and young women that we case manage, to provide beneficial experiences to increase their social capacity. This also includes art therapy and play therapy,” says Vivian.
More social outings, such as going to the cinema or doing ice-skating, are also on the cards.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.