Karen Syed never thought of herself as a leader, but elders in the Mt Druitt based Baabayn Aboriginal Cooperative, did. They asked Karen, a young local woman, to coordinate a group for young mums and babies, and the John Wallis Foundation supported her position with $2400.

The trial is now a weekly Wednesday gathering of young mums, as well as grandmothers from the area and Karen is still coordinator. Some weeks were challenging as the group struggled to establish a core of between six and 10 ‘regulars’, but their achievements have been significant.

“Some of the mums who come are really isolated and they have a lot going on in their lives. The group supports them as parents, and as women,” Karen said.

Through the group all participants got their first aid certificate, obtained their L plates for driving and children’s immunisations were updated. As well, health talks were arranged and the women took turns to cook the Wednesday lunch using healthy recipes and information.

The elders’ faith in Karen has also paid off as she emerges as a leader within the group, speaking at external events and raising funds for more Baabayn initiatives.

“We started as young mums but soon some grandmothers came and that’s been an important connection between the generations. The older women have a lot to offer,” she said.
“A lot of our mums are single and with some big problems. This group brings them to a place where there is support, a lot of support.”