Girl Guides of NSW/ACT
Image: Girl Guides of NSW/ACT

School pressure, family life, digital identity in 2019

How the Australian Girl Guides tackle modern challenges

New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Girl Guides will concentrate on the role of guiding young girls to navigate the pressures of their college, their families, their digital identity and their expectations by launching a fresh campaign called the “A Place to Grow”.

This essential communication to young girls, their families and thousands of active and potential volunteers will highlight the varied experiences and importance of this offer to today’s young girls.

Sarah Neill, State Commissioner, said Girl Guides offers a safe environment for young individuals.

“We come together over a variety of activities, build confidence and resilience which makes our young people better able to cope with their lives.
We encourage our girls to build life skills, and have the freedom to be adventurous, learn strong communication skills, laugh, and make life-long friendships”
– Sarah Neill, State Commissioner

Ella Ezergailis, aged 12, wanted her share of adventure and entertainment to be joined by Girl Guides, having heard the Guiding tales of her mother.

In 2018 she was named during ‘Girls Takeover Parliament’ as the youngest girl guide in the Chamber of the House of Representatives, where she went to Question Time. Disgusted with the behavior of Prime Minister Scott Morrison she wrote to the nations head of state.

“I decided to write to the Prime Minister and ask him to change the culture in Parliament House. I told him he should visit my school to learn how to behave respectfully. My letter was shared around the world on social media and was reported by news outlets. Girl Guides has given me the confidence to do such a thing, however the result made me feel that a 12-year-old girl’s voice was important, and girls do have the power to change the world.”
– Ella Ezergailis, aged 12

Girl Guides in NSW & ACT now has 7,400 participants in 540 units in their 99th year.

Comissionary Neill said latest study shows 90 percent of women have joined the organization before 11 and remain in the organization because it was the ideal antidote to young people’s complicated and pressured lives.

“Our research showed that young girls join for the things they need most at this stage of their lives: fun, meeting friends outside of school and developing new skills. Parents said they wanted their daughters to join to help them build their confidence, meet new friends and have a community orientation to their life. Our programs offer a connection to experiences and community that schools and busy families can’t. We have large scale events and the traditional jamboree, but mostly girls choose their own activities to complete, from creative pursuits to sailing, coding to cooking, orientation to fundraising.”
– Sarah Neill, State Commissioner

In order to encourage the tales of resilience, confidence and friendship, the “A place to grow” programme is going to use the 540 Units of the NSW & ACT girl guides, which it promotes, through the social media, the local press, local activities like college feasts and girl guides own evenings.

Helen White, CEO, says that girl guides have an excellent grassroots strategy.

“Over 1,000,000 Australians are or have been a Girl Guide. We work at the local level, in communities and across regions supporting and empowering the women of tomorrow. There is a resurgence of interest in Girl Guides, as young people and their families look at ways to combat the pressures of busy and digital lives. We’re all about supporting someone to find their own path, to build resilience, and life skills to take them wherever they wish”
– Helen White, CEO

But does Girl Guides still matter to today’s women? Ella says it is.

“Girl Guides is even more relevant to young people growing up with a digital life. Girl Guides teaches you how to interact socially, be a responsible citizen, how to deal with emergency situations and gives you the courage to accept challenges. I even went on camp for a week without my phone, and I survived.”
– Ella Ezergailis, aged 12

Want to get involved? Visit the NSW/ACT Girl Guides site.

Image: Girl Guides of NSW/ACT


Atom is a Kiwi and gained experience in news reporting, bicultural and cross-cultural reporting, news photography, media law and ethics at the Auckland Univerity of Technology.