Hi my name is Jane Holmes and Support The Girls Australia came about due to an encounter with a young 13 year old girl in a Gold Coast shopping mall. This young girl approached me and asked if I had any sanitary products. I could tell from looking at her that things were not right and immediately asked her when she had last eaten. I insisted on buying her lunch and that is when I heard her story. She had run away from a sexually abusive environment at home – the perpetrator being her step father and her mother was not taking any heed of her pleas for help. So she ran away and felt safer on the streets. After buying her lunch and then sanitary items I asked her to show me where she was living. She was reluctant but I explained my concerns for her wellbeing and I needed to ensure she was with safe people. This is where I met “Lily” (I am not sure if this is her real name). “Lily” was a large elderly weather beaten character, and character she was, but behind this gregarious larger than life lady was a very sad physical situation. I had noticed her bust size and asked her why she was not wearing a bra. She advised me that she had not had a bra in four years. She proceeded to show me the physical consequences of breast tissue on skin with a mix of heat and unhygienic conditions. Having worked as a Crisis Counselor with the New Zealand Police I should not have been shocked but it was horrendous. The other lady with them had no bras either. Living in a tropical climate their health concerns weighed so heavily on my mind. You can read about Jane here. Jane Holmes
This was how I got to meet the amazing Dana Marlowe from Wheaton, Maryland, who had just six months prior started Support The Girls. I had done extensive research and did not find any group or charity that focused on bras specifically for Australian women. There were plenty of charities helping women offshore but not our own people. Dana and I emailed each other a few times and she gave me the rights to set up Support The Girls Australia as the first official International Affiliate.
I was not sure how this was going to go but I knew in my heart I had to do something to help women and girls. I just could not imagine women and girls not having a bra or sanitary products.
I started off the Facebook page and thought well I shall see how this goes and I gave myself a year. I threw all caution to the wind to follow my heart and walked away from my career to focus on putting my complete soul into it.
The response and support was INCREDIBLE and to be honest mind boggling. When you talked to people they were just as incredulous and the same old thing was always said, “I never thought of anyone not having a bra”.
I had the privilege of meeting Liz Frisk AM at the end of April after connecting with her with regards to helping homeless communities. A bond and connection was made at that first meeting. Liz has 35 years of experience in the homeless community from every single aspect. We both shared the same vision and passion and she I knew I wanted her on board as part of the Support The Girls team. You can read more about Liz on her profile. Liz Fritz AM
By September I realised that it was time to register as a charity. The volume of bras we were collecting was overwhelming. So as of the 1st of October 2016 Support The Girls Australia become an official charity. The Directors are myself Jane Holmes, Liz Fritz AM and Callum Holmes. Even though we are an affiliate of the I Support The Girls US, from a charity, directorship and operations perspective we are a totally separate entity. We get no funding or product support from any US sponsors.