Less than one month after graduating from the ASPIRE program run by Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, 15 young Muslim women are using newly developed governance and leadership skills to support 34 community organisations.

The 15 women, who were born in 14 different countries and speak 17 different languages, share a common desire to change the world, but lacked some of the leadership skills to make the change happen.

Over a six month period, the ASPIRE program gave the women the opportunity to learn new leadership and governance skills through a mixture of classroom sessions, mentoring, and group activities, and took 15 women with individual strength and created a force to help change the world.

The ASPIRE program includes a camp focused on building leadership skills

The women learnt how to assert themselves, how to lead a boardroom, how to create opportunities and how to maximise the impact of an organisation’s mission. These skills will take the group far in their careers. The skills will also be shared with colleagues and peers.

This year’s graduates are the third group of young Muslim women to complete the ASPIRE program. Director of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, Professor Kathy Laster says the benefits continue to reach far beyond the individuals.

“These young women are already playing important roles in their community and with the lessons they have learnt through ASPIRE will be able to make an even bigger impact and continue to give back through the community organisations they work with,” Professor Laster said.

The 15 women work with 34 community organisations.

Among the most innovative part of the program, a group of CEOs and senior leaders from non-profit organisations including AMES Australia, Benevolence Australia, Fitted for Work, Foundation for Young Australians and Justice Connect act as mentors for the ASPIRE participants. These sessions provide an opportunity for the women to learn about the individual leadership skills of each leader as well as gain insights into organisational best practice.

The ASPIRE program is supported by Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, and the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre is developing a model where ASPIRE can be delivered within communities for communities.

A new program will begin in early 2020, with a call for applications beginning later this year.