I Support The Girls (ISTG) is proud to announce the winner of the 2018 BRAvo Award: Jane Holmes, CEO and Affiliate Director of I Support The Girls Australia! Jane has received the award for her dedication to empowering women and supporting thousands of girls and women by helping them maintain their dignity.
❝Jane’s been involved with ISTG since nearly the beginning. She has taken Dana’s idea and implemented our model seamlessly throughout all of Australia,” says Rachael Heger, ISTG’s Director of Affiliates. “Her efforts have resulted in numerous sponsorships and opportunities for the ISTG-Australia team, culminating with their first gala this past summer. Jane’s tireless efforts throughout Australia are an inspiration for our entire staff.❞
I was born in South Africa and adopted by parents originally from New Zealand. In 1993, I left South Africa for New Zealand with my husband and two children. At the end of 2002, we moved to Australia with our then three children. I lost my husband to suicide at the young age of 39 in February 2005.
After this tragedy, I became part of a relatively new organization called Victim Support, a support service linked with the New Zealand Police and created to support victims at the front line of an event. Victim Support Counsellors would often arrive at a scene before the police and we would triage the victims and families and then assist them with connecting to support services. I was actively involved in writing the strategies and policies. My own experience in trauma drove me to want to help others.
I’ve always been actively involved in community volunteering. This value was instilled in me by my father who was an incredible philanthropist and believed in always helping the disenfranchised person. I’ve researched and written articles on PTSD in the military, an issue close to my heart because of my husband’s military background. I lecture on the topic and also facilitate face to face suicide support for those family members left behind.
My career background was always in textiles, and I had my own textile business in South Africa. After the loss of my husband I had to find a new career to support my family. I used my background in both textiles and swimming to get involved in the swimwear and race-suit industry. I did this for 12 years prior to stepping away to build I Support The Girls Australia full time.
How did you first find out about the work done by ISTG?
In February 2016, I met a young girl in a shopping mall who approached me and asked me for sanitary items. I of course took care of her needs. Over lunch, I discovered she was under the care of two elderly homeless women. I asked her to take me to meet them, and got to know Lily, one of her caretakers who is a larger than life lady with an even larger bust! Noticing she wasn’t wearing a bra, I couldn’t fathom how anyone could cope in 110F weather without one. Lily told me she couldn’t afford one and hadn’t had a bra in four years. I suggested she go and see a support service like Salvation Army, but she told me none of them kept bras and certainly not in her size.
This was when I started the journey to find a support service – I could not find any charity or group in Australia that actually facilitated the provision of bras. Through the magic of Facebook shares, I found Dana and wrote to her about starting a chapter in Australia.