Founder and CEO
Jane Holmes is the founder and CEO of Support the Girls Australia.
Jane is a Mother. Widow. Survivor. Inspiration.
Jane’s mission to help disadvantaged women reclaim their sense of self-worth is deeply personal as she has walked in their shoes on many fronts. Jane is a very private but headstrong person who is determined to bring change in her calm unassuming way. She brings an energy and passion that is formidable.
Widowed to suicide at 39, she was left to raise three children on her own. She had no support system at all being in a new country and did not qualify for social benefits. Jane reinvented herself and changed her career path to provide for her children.
In 2015 Jane was forced to give up a successful career and financial security to have her ankle reconstructed for a second time after walking on it broken for seven years. It took a huge toll and the financial implications were catastrophic and she battled to sustain her family financially. In Jane’s words, “When my husband committed suicide, I had no idea how I was going to survive. I lived with the constant fear and anxiety of my children losing the roof from over their heads. Having to give up my career to save my foot I had to go through all the same fears.” Jane had been advised that she would only need six months off work for the recovery time, but it took 11 months before she could even walk. During this time period Jane had no income, but thankfully had two adult sons who took care of the bills and their home, but Jane says if it was not for them the situation would have been dire and they could have been facing homelessness. She says it just takes one major crisis for people to suddenly find themselves in financial instability and hence looking down the barrel of homelessness. Since starting Support The Girls Australia Jane has also dealt with a third journey with cancer. But as she says, she does not give it any energy or thought and just lives her life one day at a time.
One of the key areas that Jane is committed to is educating people on the face of homelessness. Jane says the situations she has found herself are prime examples. She says “If people meet me, they assume I am financially secure and well educated. I had a privileged upbringing and the best education, but it is not a guarantee that you will not face financial hardship. There are a lot of women like me who are in strong financial positions who suddenly loose it all, whether divorce, domestic violence, loss of a spouse etc and most of these women are too proud to shout out for help. Society sees us as being comfortable and having it all together. This can more often or not be so far from the truth and it is important to give these women a safe environment to get help and support without judgement.”
Jane brings a strong corporate background to Support The Girls Australia as well as her years of experience as a crisis counsellor with Victim Support in New Zealand. Jane was instrumental in writing some of the policies for Victim Support and understands the need for processes and strong governance. These two strengths mean that the charity has a sound business structure and a person that has experienced the worst case scenarios of what people can experience and hence Jane has the understanding and empathy to be able to handle and deal with any situation. Jane says to build a strong foundation to ensure a charity is successful requires a good sound business practice, and this is what she brings to the table. Jane says a charity has the exact same processes and infrastructure as a profit business. The only difference is charities do not have a product that they can sell to raise revenue so they have to work even harder to cover the same expenses a revenue run business would have.
In between managing Support The Girls Australia Jane facilitates face to face support for families bereft of a loved one to suicide in her capacity as a suicide counsellor. She also lectures in PTSD.
Jane has always been involved in community work from a young girl. Something her father installed in her.
She has sat on numerous committees and boards.
Jane is a private person and spends her rare spare time reading and investing any spare time with her grandson. She loves reading and music is her sanity.
CHAIRPERSON AND DIRECTOR
Diana Roussi is Managing Director of the Civil and Institutional Abuse Litigation practice of Littles.
A tenacious advocate, Diana has practiced as a lawyer since 2007, most of which has been spent claiming compensation for victims of personal injury and neglect, who otherwise would not have the means to access justice.
Experienced with serving those within disadvantaged communities across Queensland and New South Wales (many of whom were victims of trauma), Diana increasingly noticed the prevalence of marginalised women without the ability to escape the cycle of poverty, violence and trauma — without support from someone like her.
Combining her legal skills with business management practices, through her role as Chairperson Diana ensures Support The Girls’ mission is best achieved through rigorous governance standards, policies and procedures – inspiring financial donors and sponsors to give more with greater comfort.
Diana prides herself on being part of the sustainable solution for women’s disadvantages and through her practice (and personal volunteer work) actively promotes empowerment for diverse groups of women who experience multiple structural oppressions.
She believes that volunteering is about giving back to our community in a meaningful and useful manner, and taking the time and skills that we have to assist others who are in need in a way that is respectful and empowering of people and organisations.
Diana is trained in trauma-informed care and practice which ensures the most appropriate advice can be provided to victims at the time of most need.
– Bachelor of Laws (Bond)
– Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Qld
Upon Leaving school Diane’s working journey started out as an apprentice hairdresser working in Adelaide. Family and a move to Canberra in 1972 saw a career change when she acquired a position in administration with N C D C and later with the Cities Commission.
A new opportunity became available with the introduction of Medibank in 1975. During her time with Medibank her duties included, performing quality control on the daily run sheets from around Australia, compiling statistics and eventually assessing and researching the applications for ancillary practioners who were applying for a provider number. Diane worked in this sector of the government until she left to add to her family and help run her husband’s newly started Landscaping and Construction business.
Another move a number of years later took her to Perth WA where she became a homemaker while her husband attended full time University…a challenging time but a rewarding one. Returning to Canberra in 1987 where a new/old home was purchased that required some renovation work, during this time she discovered the new meaning of “life begins at forty” She now had a family of four, with the difference of 21 years from start to finish…one of life’s challenges but a welcome one.
It was during a holiday on the Gold Coast leaving a cold Canberra winter that a new property was purchased and six month later a permanent move took place. Two new business adventures both in the tourist trade, one being a Limousine business and at the same time a business that took tourist wanting to experience guided walking tours in the beautiful Lamington National Park.
Always having a keen interest in Patchwork and Quilting she joined the Gold Coast Quilters Guild in 2009 and later in 2015/16 became Vice President and continued on in 2016/17 as President. It was during this time that Diane became aware of STGA and invited Jane Holmes to do a talk for the Guild… The following day Diane phoned Jane and offered to volunteer with STGA.
To date, life has been Diane’s teacher and she feels it has rewarded her with many wonderful experiences and also taught her to be compassionate and have empathy .
JULIE BELL BEd, GCM, Dip. Teach
Julie’s professional experience is essentially grounded in school education, with over 30 years in NSW secondary schools and local and State Education Departments as a teacher, senior leader, consultant and manager. Julie has worked tirelessly to ensure that young people have access to quality teaching and learning and all are able to achieve a successful transition to employment, further education and training.
At the state level Julie had responsibility for strategic planning, monitoring, reporting and financial management of the School to Work, a flagship NSW program providing career and transitions support for school students. She provided strategic policy advice and represented NSW on a range of national advisory committees before moving to Queensland for family reasons.
In Qld Julie established her own consultancy business, Bell Education Consulting, where, for a time she worked collaboratively with Atelier Learning Solutions on a range of national tenders such as the Enterprise Learning in the 21st Century Project and a teacher resource to support Indigenous personalised learning in schools as part of the national Closing the Gap initiatives. At the conclusion of this work Julie joined Education Queensland to support the development of project management systems and procedures in the Teaching and Learning team.
In 2010-14 Julie joined The Smith Family in Brisbane as Senior Partnership Broker Manager where she had project leadership responsibility for the Federal Government’s School Business Community Partnership Broker Program across 4 regions, including 30 staff, in SEQLD. Her leadership and management of this program required strong partnering and networking skills and strict alignment with the government’s youth attainment and transition policy agenda and The Smith Family’s vision to improve the educational and transition outcomes for young people in disadvantaged communities.
Julie has also more recently completed contract work for The Smith Family: writing a Government grant application, preparing 2 regional feasibility studies (Gladstone, Queensland and the Pilbara, Western Australia) and designing a training package based on a school partnerships framework.
In 2017 Julie joined Principals Australia Institute to deliver training and provide support and guidance to school staff on the implementation of the Kids Matter Primary and Mind Matters mental health and well-being frameworks.
Julie is a strong advocate for social inclusion and is passionate about empowering people effected by disadvantage. She recently retired as Secretary and Board Member for Brisbane Youth Housing Project (YHP), however this volunteer role provided an amazing insight into the challenges disadvantaged young people face to secure suitable housing.
I am an active volunteer with the following organisations:
- Support the Girls Australia https://supportthegirls.com.au/
- Suited to Success Brisbane https://brisbane.dressforsuccess.org/
- Ready Reading Volunteer Program https://volunteeringqld.org.au/volunteers/ready-reading