Helping disadvantaged women Dress for Success

This is a story about women helping other women. On 11 November 2012, Sydney women opened their hearts and their wallets in support of the local arm of Dress for Success, a global charity dedicated to improving the lives of women. Leading the fund-raising effort was Sydney business woman and philanthropist, Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM.

Dress for Success Sydney is a registered charity that outfits disadvantaged women free of charge, in high quality professional attire and provides practical advice in preparation for job interviews.

On Friday 12 October 2012, Dress for Success Sydney hosted its annual gala dinner at The Westin Sydney where The Australasian College’s Founder and Co-Chair Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM announced $100,000 in scholarship packages and gave a $5,000 donation to improve the organisation’s online presence. The Australasian College will also be providing free style makeovers to every client of Dress for Success Sydney in preparation for job interviews (valued at $465,000) over the next 12 months.

Nikki Webster Photographed by Dominic Loneragan.

Nikki Webster Photographed by Dominic Loneragan.

A month later, Maureen Houssein-Mustafa threw open the doors of The Australasian College, the business she founded in 1994, for Bubbles and Bargains, a special fund-raising event where women could purchase highly discounted designer clothing, shoes and accessories donated by high end fashion houses. More than 350 Sydney women attended the event which raised over $25,000 for the charity.

“By opening our doors to Dress for Success Sydney we will make a substantial difference in improving the quality of life for women in New South Wales,” said Maureen Houssein-Mustafa.

“We want women to be aware of the opportunities available to them, and through these initiatives we are able to offer life-changing assistance to kick start their career and their journey to financial independence.”

Dress for Success Sydney has a mission to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women in NSW by providing them with professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. Partnerships such as the one between Dress for Success Sydney and The Australasian College, will go along way toward achieving this mission. For more information about Dress for Success Sydney visit the website:

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of women in more than 120 cities across 13 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and the West Indies.

In addition to Dress for Success Sydney, the charity also provides assistance to Australian women in Brisbane, Melbourne, and the Mornington Peninsula.

Dress for Success depends on a team of qualified, passionate and dedicated individuals, organisations and companies for their continued success. If you can help, contact your nearest office of Dress for Success to lend a hand.

You may also want to consider helping to set up a branch of Dress for Success in your corner of the world. Contact Dress for Success Worldwide for more information on how you can help.

Bubbles and Bargains Photographed by Dominic Loneragan

Bubbles and Bargains Photographed by Dominic Loneragan

Celebrity Women Show their Support for Girls Night In 2012

Neighbours actress Gemma Pranita, Home & Away actress Rhiannon Fish, radio and television presenter Charli Robinson, Channel Nine News presenter Alison Ariotti, celebrity chef Karen Martini, Nashville actress Clare Bowen and TV presenter and foodie, Alana Lowes, have been named by the Cancer Council as celebrity ambassadors for Girls Night In 2012.

One in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. This October, hundreds of thousands of women will be “staying in” to support the Cancer Council’s Girls’ Night In, to help raise much needed funding for women’s cancer research, prevention programs and support services.

This year, the Cancer Council is aiming to raise over $3.6 million to provide support for the 17,500 women – grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends – who will be diagnosed with breast and gynaecological cancers in the next 12 months.

To encourage as many women as possible to get involved in Girls Night In, the Cancer Council has enlisted the help of seven female celebrities: Gemma Pranita, Rhiannon Fish (pictured above), Charli Robinson, Alison Ariotti, Karen Martini, Clare Bowen and Alana Lowes.

Gemma PranitaNeighbours actress Gemma Pranita (pictured right), will be joining women across the country to share a fun night in with her girlfriends and cast mates to raise much needed funds for women’s cancers.

“I believe that Girls’ Night In is an incredible initiative to raise awareness about women’s cancers and the impact it can have on family and friends. I’m really looking forward to having a night in with the girls and at the same time, know that I’ll be supporting thousands of people who’ve been touched by cancer in some way,” said Gemma.

Getting involved is easy. Simply invite the girls over for a fun night in and ask them to donate what they usually spend on a night out to the Cancer Council.

Girls Night In activities may include a dinner party, a DVD marathon, a pamper evening, a book club or even just inviting the girls over for a catch up. Whatever you choose to do, whether big or small, remember the Cancer Council’s motto: Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

To host a Girls Night In activity or event register at: or telephone 1300 65 65 85.

All the money raised will help Cancer Council fight breast and gynaecological cancers through prevention programs, support services and world-class research. Here are just a few of the ways that your contribution will help:

  • $10 can help produce a cancer information book that provides clear and accurate information about specific gynaecological cancers.
  • $50 can help pay for Cancer Council Helpline calls that can inform and reassure women about their cancer diagnosis.
  • $100 can help us provide a room for the night for women who need to stay away from home to access treatment.
  • $500 can go towards funding a grant for new research into ovarian cancer.

Hosting a Girls’ Night In is an opportunity to connect with the most important women in your life. Whatever it is that you and your friends do to relax and enjoy each other’s company counts as a Girls’ Night In.

So get the girls together now and help beat women’s cancers. Check out for more details.

Photographs by Andrew Maccoll

Pink Golf Day

Women playing golfGolf clubs around Australia are invited to ‘pink up’ this October by participating in Breast Cancer Network Australia’s (BCNA) Pink Golf Day in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

With an increasing number of women taking up the sport, the PGA of Australia is using it’s considerable influence to encourage golf clubs across Australia to get involved in the BCNA initiative.

Local golf clubs are encouraged to sign up and turn hot pink for a day to raise funds and awareness for BCNA. Pink Golf Day will be held nationally on 28 October, however clubs are welcome to choose any date that suits their calendar.

Money raised by clubs will go directly to BCNA to support its work in ensuring women diagnosed with breast cancer anywhere in Australia are provided with the information, services and support, including the free My Journey Kit for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

BCNA CEO Maxine Morand, herself a breast cancer survivor, says Pink Golf Day is a great way for communities to demonstrate their support not just for women affected by breast cancer, but for their partners and children too.

“Showing local support for women and families affected by breast cancer is really important. Pink Golf Day is an excellent opportunity for communities to rally together, have some fun, and make a real difference to breast cancer care and support in Australia,” Maxine said.

“More than 14,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. The funds raised through Pink Golf Day are important to support the work BCNA does in offering women from all over Australia, ongoing and up-to-date information, services and support.”

Registration for Pink Golf Day is essential. To find out more about Pink Golf Day or to register visit the website:

Take a seat at the World's Largest Makeup Class

Update 21 Sept 2012: Aussies set New World Record for World’s Largest Makeup Class

Priceline and Bourjois will be attempting to set a new a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest makeup class on Thursday 20th September at Sydney’s Martin Place. This is a charity event so those in attendance will be encouraged to make a donation. However, all participants will receive a goody bag worth $100 and a certificate of thanks for helping to make this event a record breaking success.

This world record attempt is part of Priceline Pout Day, a fund raising event to support Australian women through the Priceline Sisterhood and its charity partner, Look Good…Feel Better. Every dollar raised on the day will go to help Look Good…Feel Better, which supports women who are going through cancer treatment.

Those of you who can’t make it to Sydney on the 20th September can also join in all the fun of Priceline Pout Day. Priceline & Priceline Pharmacies nationally will have a cosmetician in-store to offer expert advice on lipstick and makeup application.

Women who attend Martin Place on Pout Day can also take part in a range of beauty activities in the marquee and also visit Priceline’s new mobile beauty parlour, the Priceline Sister Clubhouse (pictured above).

The aim of the world record attempt at Martin Place is to raise $20,000 for The Priceline Sisterhood and its charity partner, Look Good…Feel Better. Money will be raised via donations to participate in the Guinness World Records attempt and for free mini-makeovers and lipstick application, courtesy of Priceline and Bourjois. Gift bags valued at more than $100 each are also on offer for a donation. Catriona Rowntree, Priceline spokesperson for 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty will also be in attendance at the world record attempt.

When: Thursday 20th September, 8.30am-5pm
Where: Martin Place, between Castlereagh & Pitt St
Guinness World Record Attempt: start 12noon – 12.30pm

For more information visit the website

Knitters of all levels wanted to Knit for Children in Need this Winter

Each year the Guardian Angel Knitting Program encourages knitters of all levels to pick up knitting needles, hone their skills and donate their woollen creations to Australians in need. Now in it’s 14th year, the Guardian Angel Knitting Program is running throughout the winter months from June to August. Knitted items include clothes, blankets, scarves, beanies and other garments.

Guardian Pharmacy has once again partnered with Variety – the Children’s Charity, a national not-for profit organisation empowering children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs. Spotlight has also joined the campaign as a partner, supplying patterns and discounts on wool through the 2012 Guardian Angel Knitting Book.

People wanting to become a ‘Guardian Angel’ can visit their local Guardian Pharmacy to pick up a free pattern book, with step-by-step instructions for a number of different garments to knit.

For more information on the Guardian Angel program or to find your nearest Guardian Pharmacy, please call 1300 888 666 or visit the Guardian Pharmacy website

High Tea for Habitat 2012

High Tea for Habitat 2012High Tea for Habitat is an annual event held in September every year in support of Habitat for Humanity Australia (HFHA), an independent non-profit organisation working to reduce housing poverty in Australia and overseas. HFHA has built over 100 homes in Australia, and launched two major national projects that will repair and build over 39 homes for families affected by the Queensland floods and Black Saturday bushfires.

Help support the good work of Habitat for Humanity Australia by hosting a High Tea for Habitat this September and enjoy a cup of tea and some special treats with friends and family, while raising money for families and communities in need across the Asia Pacific region. You can host a high tea at any time throughout the month of September – at home, in a park, café, nearest high tea establishment at work or anywhere that is convenient for you. Simply invite your friends, family and work colleagues to share some special treats and donate the money raised to Habitat for Humanity Australia.

Register host a High Tea for Habitat this September by calling Habitat on 1800 88 55 99 or go online and Habitat for Humanity Australia will provide you with a host kit that gives you everything you need to make your high tea a success including posters, recipes, samples, discounts and fundraising ideas!

Habitat for Humanity AustraliaPassionate Habitat for Humanity supporter and High Tea for Habitat host Fiona-Julia has not only recently celebrated her own vintage high tea wedding in May, she is also going to be host to Habitat for Humanity’s largest ever High Tea for Habitat in September. Using the vintage fabrics, items such as picnic baskets, and skills she acquired to plan her wedding, Fiona-Julia aims to host between 200-300 guests for her high tea. And to make it an extra special event she will also be setting up pamper stations, workshops, market stalls, auction items, gift bags to take home and more.

Fiona-Julia has a large selection of images from her high tea wedding to give you an idea of what this event will look like. She can also give you hints and tips on how to host and create a vintage look and feel high tea. You can take a look at her Facebook page that she created especially for her wedding:

High Tea has fast become a very popular pastime for those who enjoy delicious food and tea, and for those keen to host their own high tea, or find out where to go for the best sandwiches and scones in their local area, Habitat for Humanity has hints and tips for you. With help from the recently launched venue The Victoria Room Tea Salon, Habitat can help provide recipe ideas, as well as high tea etiquette straight from the queen of high tea herself Jill-Jones Evans, the official ambassador of High Tea for Habitat.

For more information visit the website:

Butterfly Foundation names Mrs Australia as it's first ambassador

The Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s leading non-government organisation representing eating disorders and body image, has announced Mrs Australia Globe 2011, Karen Gee (pictured far left), as its first ambassador.

“It is a privilege to be chosen as the first Ambassador for The Butterfly Foundation and I am so proud to be working with Butterfly to help them change the way we look at ourselves, and to help young people love who they are – inside and out,” said Mrs Karen Gee.

Through her charity work, the mother of five has demonstrated a passion for raising children to value who they are and not what they look like and she believes in helping adults understand the important role they can play, in addressing negative body image and eating disorders.

CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, Christine Morgan said the Butterfly Foundation chose Karen Gee as its first ambassador in recognition of her commitment to advocacy and charitable fund raising through the Mrs Australia Globe competition.

“Addressing the known pathway between negative body image and eating disorders is a significant priority for Butterfly and Karen’s enthusiasm, profile and dedication to raising awareness of these issues and Butterfly’s work will be invaluable,” said Ms Morgan.

Ms Morgan added that the Butterfly Foundation is looking forward to working with Karen as she raises awareness of these important issues and Butterfly’s work in the community.

Karen Gee was crowned Mrs Australia Globe on 18th September 2011, after working tirelessly to raise awareness and much needed funding for the two charities the competition supports.

Karen says she will use her profile as the current Mrs Australia Globe to help Butterfly connect with new areas of the community. She is particularly interested in helping mothers with young children appreciate the seriousness of these illnesses.

“I have a strong association with mothers who struggle to reclaim their sense of self-worth and well-being after pregnancy. The role-modelling parents provide to their children around body image and healthy living is also an area that needs broader discussion in the community,” she said.

Karen’s first event as Butterfly’s Ambassador will be to co-host the Autumn Racing’s Ladies Long Lunch for the Australian Turf Club at Rosehill Racecourse on March 24. Funds raised will go to The Butterfly Foundation.

The Butterfly Foundation’s Ambassador program builds upon nine years of consistent work which includes education programs, services and counselling, by an army of volunteers and dedicated supporters.

For more information about the Butterfly Foundation visit the website:

Last minute Christmas Gifts with Heart

Updated 17 December 2013
When there are only a few shopping days left until Christmas, Australian consumers are flocking to local shopping centres around the country on the hunt for last minute Christmas gifts. But before you start grabbing for whatever’s left on the shelves, consider this – every year online auction sites are inundated in the weeks after Christmas with unwanted gifts from well meaning family, friends and colleagues. The good news is that it’s not too late to purchase a thoughtful gift to warm their heart from your local Oxfam Shop!

Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts give everybody the warm and fuzzies on Christmas morning. There are 44 gifts for Aussies to choose from at your local Oxfam Shop and you can purchase right up until Christmas Eve!

Whether it’s a goat, literacy classes for women, or toys for orphans in South Africa, your generous tax-deductible gift will make a real difference in the lives of people who are living in absolute poverty in the developing world. Personalise your choice of charity gift cards with your very own unique brand of humour or if you prefer, include a personal heartfelt message for the recipient.

Can’t get to an Oxfam Shop by Christmas Eve? No problem, check out the range of Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts on the website at and send an e-card with your gift and it will get there in the nick of time to brighten Christmas morning.

Purchase a gift that really matters, an Oxfam Unwrapped Gift with a personalised charity gift card from the Oxfam Shop or e-card from for your friend or loved one. It will make you look good and bring a smile to the recipient’s face – and like all gifts with heart, Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts are guaranteed not to end up in the pile of unwanted Christmas gifts.

Christmas Gifts that can change the world

Updated 17 December 2013
By purchasing a charity gift this Christmas you are giving the most precious gift their is, ‘hope’ for a better world. It may sound idealistic but isn’t Christmas the season of miracles?

Oxfam refer to their range of charity gifts as ‘the gifts that give twice’ because when you purchase an Oxfam Unwrapped Gift the recipient not only receives a personalised card that lets them know you are thinking of them this holiday season. But they also get that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing that a donation made in their name, is helping to change the world for someone living in poverty.

Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts range in price from just ten tax-deductible dollars (Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts are tax deductible) for a chicken, seeds or fairtrade education, up to $3,000 for a Water-Quality Testing Kit (pictured) to monitor water quality in remote areas and in difficult circumstances, during a natural disaster. But as an advocate for women’s rights, my attention is immediately drawn to those charity gifts in the range that give women and girls the opportunities so often denied to them in the developing world.

Research shows that although it is men who hold most leadership positions, it is women who drive the engine of change on a micro-economic level. Women spend 90% of their income on their families compared to men who spend less than 40%. By giving more assistance to women and educating girls, governments and aid organisations are improving the socio-economic circumstances of entire communities and therefore, it makes sense to donate my hard earned dollars and yours, to programs which provide women with the opportunity to improve the standard of living for their families.

For just $14 you can help a Sri Lankan woman to Start a Small Business in a country ravaged by natural disasters and civil war. Micro-finance in the form of a small loan can help a woman to establish a profitable business that will not only provide for her family but contribute to her community and the country as a whole because as we all know, a strong small business sector is the backbone of any sustainable economy.

For just $25 you can provide Safe Refuge for Women experiencing domestic violence in Papua New Guinea and educate them about their rights. For $40 you can also help these women by supporting Literacy Classes for women in Papua New Guinea so they can participate in education and the workforce.

Although women rarely die in childbirth in this country anymore, according to the World Health Organisation 1500 women die everyday from pregnancy or childbirth related complications. By providing Midwife Essentials such as training and equipment for midwife volunteers in Laos, Oxfam are tackling the issues of maternal and infant mortality head on in Laotian villages where women have no access to hospitals or medical staff. Alternatively, you may like to consider a tax-deductible gift of $55 for community training and support for women in Cambodia so they keep their babies healthy after they are born.

It’s not something we like to think about but many Indigenous communities in Australia are living in conditions comparable to those in the developing world. For $50 you can help support services for Aboriginal Women in rural Australia> or for just $18 you can help support the Fitzroy Stars — a Melbourne-based Aboriginal sporting club which is promoting health and fitness for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders through their netball team.

Last but certainly not least, the most popular Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts of a goat, duck, piglet or chicken, help to provide families in Laos and Mozambique with a livelihood.

Whether it’s farm animals, agricultural products, supporting health or education projects, helping people survive during natural disasters, or encouraging the growth of fairtrade, charity gifts is the one Christmas gift you and the recipient can feel good about this year.

'Mo sistas' support the men in their lives

Women are doing their bit to help men on the rocky path toward good health by volunteering as “Mo Sistas”.

Glenn McGrath is doing it, as is Ita Buttorse, Dick Smith and a number of other high profile Australians.

In fact, the list of local sporting, entertainment and business leaders who donate to charity continues to grow.

With over 4.6 million taxpayers making a donation in the 2008 to 2009 financial year, it seems that philanthropy is as popular as ever when it comes to giving back to the community.

And while the typical church fate or bingo night may have been replaced with charity jogging events and mountain treks, there is no denying that altruism makes a difference.

It may, therefore, come as no surprise that this year's Movember fundraising campaign is combining fun with a serious message to raise awareness.

Kicking off earlier this week (November 1) the charity, famous for its focus on facial hair, is hoping to inspire men across the nation to down their shaving cream and sport a Merv-Hughes-inspired moustache.

Leading the way is Steve Crombie, a documentary maker with Lonely Planet and Movember ambassador, who is sprouting a mo while traversing the Pilbara in Western Australia.

But his story is just an example of the type of events and activities that are set to happen across the nation.

The event calendar, which is jam-packed with parties, award ceremonies, surfing contests and running competitions is operating at full throttle and raising money along the way.

Yet the global movement is not just about having fun or spending time with the lads – it is also spreading a serious message about men's health.

In Australia, the average life expectancy for men is 77 years, or to put it in perspective, five less than women.

In many cases the cause of death is related to preventable diseases such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental illness or depression.

Current suicide rates are four times that of women and 3,300 individuals lose their life to prostate cancer each year, reports the charity.

With such alarming statistics it is not surprising that women are also looking for ways to participate in the awareness-raising campaign.

Women supporting the charity by hosting parties or raising funds are, for the next 30 days, being referred to as "Mo Sistas".

The not-for-profit says: "When you boil it down Mo Sistas get involved in Movember in the exact same way as Mo Bros do except without the 100 per cent face grown, hand brushed Mo."