The Dreamtime Project – A Model of Success to Empower Aboriginal Girls

What young girl wouldn’t be keen to embrace an opportunity to become a model for the day, especially those from indigenous communities currently under-represented in this area?
A group of aboriginal girls, part of a pioneering program called the Dreamtime Project, will be doing just that when they take to the catwalk at the Mundella EveryWoman Expo to showcase latest fashion trends.

Founder and Director Sylivia Giaccia says the program was established after a visit to the north west of WA.

“There is very little available to help aboriginal girls reach their full potential. I am from an Indian background myself and know that more could be done to help the indigenous community. The Dreamtime Project came about when I went to the Kimberley and could see a lack of opportunities for the local girls. I realised I wanted to make them more empowered so I set up this year long program.”

“It’s just three hours every Saturday over a year where we encourage young girls to explore areas such as health and wellness, spirituality, assertiveness and career choices so they can become more confident and lead more fulfilling lives,” she explained.

Most of the girls who currently participate are boarders at schools in Perth. There’s no charge, the Dreamtime Project is free and open to those aged between 8 and 28 and is funded through grants from the Edith Cowan University and various sponsors including Horizon Power.

“We encourage the girls to try out modelling as this involves confidence, your posture and the way you walk, we then move on to public speaking and other areas. Watching these girls who have really been quite shy, blossom and form new friendships with others on the program, is really rewarding.”

“I know a girl whose family were all artists but she didn’t feel she had the confidence to pursue this and now having completed the Dreamtime Project she’s gone on to have her art work exhibited. I have also seen a young girl achieve her life long career aspiration of studying to become a nurse.”

The girls will participate in the catwalk show once a day for the duration of the three day Mundella EveryWoman Expo. Sylvia who used to work in fashion and is a former model said she has been overwhelmed with support.

“In 2015, some of the girls participated in New York Fashion Week, a fashion designer collaborated with an aboriginal artist to come up with some unique designs. These indigenous girls met with native American Indians and talked about their experiences. Top fashion designer Donna Karen gave them a talk about working in the fashion industry and they had a private tour of the lingerie group ‘Victoria’s Secrets’, it was a great experience.”

Sylvia is hoping to expand her Dreamtime Project into the United States and is also planning to introduce a shorter condensed program into the Port Hedland and Kimberley regions.

“There really is no stopping us, I’ve seen what can be achieved through these projects and how the girls have really flourished. We’re not creating fashion models, but role models. When I watch them go to university, reach their career potential or embrace a new opportunity, that’s when I realise how empowered they have become.”

Anyone who’d like to find out more about the Dreamtime Project should go to their website thedreamtimeproject.com.au or come along to the EveryWoman Catwalk at 2pm to see the beautiful models in action.