When it comes to inspiring organisations and even more inspiring women, you can’t look past the amazing work that Skye Jerome, Kerrie Fredericks and Megan Heywood are doing with Townsville’s Sky Foundation.
Coming from local barrister backgrounds, Skye, Kerrie and Megan founded the organisation in December 2013. Their aim? To help make a positive impact on North Queensland women and children who were surviving domestic violence.
As prosecutors, the trio were already part of the justice system but would meet victims at the end of the domestic violence cycle. However, they wanted to help empower women and children at a stage much earlier than in the courtroom. This is when they learnt of the terrible struggles facing the local Townsville Women’s Centre (TWC).
“The CEO, Cathy Crawford, advised that the centre would have exhausted its entire annual budget for food vouchers if they handed one out to every woman who called on their service that past week,” says Sky Foundation Co-Founder, Sky Jerome. “In the year 2011 to 2012, the fundraising balance totalled $7,500 and over 12,500 women had been assisted that year. However, the centre had no ability to fundraise further. This was due to being so overstretched and having limited government funding.”
Armed with this information, the ladies quickly partnered with TWC and hosted their first fundraising event at Jam Corner, raising over $30,000. Since then, Sky Foundation has garnered incredible support from both men and women in the business community. So far, they’ve received financial donations from Brian Boyd and Stephan Williams from Payce and Wingate Properties, Carolyn McManus from The Coffee Club, Andrew Acton from Explore Property, Debra Rains from Escape Travel, Brad Webb from BM Webb, Jeff and Natasha Doyle from Mendi Group and many more.
This support has reached dizzying heights, with over $575,000 already raised for a new purpose-built Townsville Women’s Centre. The new centre could deliver even better holistic services for victims. They hope to have improved legal and medical services, a safe, soundproof and purpose-built space for victims, an art space for group therapy and information sessions and more employees to help service the demand.
“The Townsville Women’s Centre has been in the Townsville Community for 33 years and has assisted over 360,000 women and children,” Sky says.
“Shamefully, Townsville is the sexual assault capital of Queensland and the Townsville Women’s Centre is the only specialist sexual assault counselling service available in our community.”
In order to raise both funds and awareness for the increasingly important Townsville Women’s Centre, Sky Foundation garnered the support of one of Australia’s most inspiring women: humanitarian, athlete, motivator and new mum, Turia Pitt. After being trapped in a horrific grass fire while competing in a 100-kilometre ultramarathon, Turia was choppered from the scene barely alive and with full thickness burns to 65% of her body. Against all odds and in the ultimate story of triumph, Turia not only survived her ordeal but also came out the other side with an entirely new outlook on life. Now, she’ll be telling her awe-inspiring story at the International Women’s Day luncheon at The Ville Casino, which will also have Nine News North Queensland presenter, Samantha Heathwood as MC and a panel discussion on the important #metoo campaign.
From the Sky Foundation founders right through to Turia Pitt, these exceptionally inspiring leaders show what’s at the true core of our Townsville community: courage and determination. The amazing support from both men and women in the community continually proves that Townsville is more than just a city – it’s a community that we all proudly support.