Supporting the most vulnerable
Audi Foundation announces an all-new partnership with Zephyr Education.
The Audi Foundation has announced the formation of a new partnership with Zephyr Education – a charitable organisation committed to helping to support children whose education has been adversely affected by domestic violence.
15 July, 2022
These children often have to flee a violent domestic situation with little more than the clothes on their back
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, the Audi Foundation has announced a new partnership with Zephyr Education Inc as part of its 'Supporting Sustainable Communities’ pillar. This community based organisation run entirely by volunteers, has built a strong reputation for its work supporting the most vulnerable members of the community – children – and helping them to cope with the massive disruptions to their life and education caused by domestic or family violence.
For most children, changing schools is a difficult and sometimes traumatic situation at the best of times, but when that situation is brought about by the effects of domestic violence, that impact and trauma take on a whole new dimension.
These children often have to flee a violent domestic situation with little more than the clothes on their back. Having to rebuild and make a fresh start at a new school without the requisite uniform and essentials only adds to what is already an unimaginably difficult situation for a child.
It was this very situation which led to the creation of Zephyr Education Inc – a charity whose core purpose seeks to support this most vulnerable group, by providing these children with everything they need to restart their education at their new school as quickly as possible.
“In 2013, I read an article about children arriving in domestic violence shelters with nothing,” explains Zephyr Education Co-Founder Isabella Bevan.
“At the time I was managing a uniform shop so I instantly saw a way that this need could be met and felt that we needed to do something about it. So, I talked to [my husband] David, my sister Carmel and her husband Terry and we decided as a family that we would try and address this need, but quickly realised it was going to be much bigger than the four of us.”
While the need was enormous, the family started with a considered approach after talking to two local Brisbane shelters. In the early days, they fine-tuned their operation to ensure that no further demands were placed on the busy case workers at the shelters they were intent on supporting, and that each child they helped could return to school fully equipped as quickly as possible. Today, thanks to around 50 volunteers and the support of private donations and community grants, Zephyr supplies the essential schooling needs of children in 146 shelters and family support organisations across Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and more recently, the Northern Territory.
Zephyr supplies the essential schooling needs of children in 146 shelters and family support organisations across Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory
We’re already seeing the benefit of the Audi Foundation partnership by being able to say yes to a shelter in the Northern Territory that recently reached out to us
The Audi Foundation first connected with Zephyr Education in 2017 with what was the largest grant Zephyr had received at that time, followed by another grant in 2020. This year’s new partnership sits within Audi’s ‘Supporting Sustainable Communities’ pillar, and while it highlights the Foundation’s commitment to education, it also contributes to the growth of a charity that is already making an extraordinary difference in the lives of Australian children.
“We know that what Zephyr does is needed throughout Australia, and we haven’t been brave enough to tackle the bigger states yet,” says Isabella.
“But we’ve decided that now we’ve got the funding from the Audi Foundation, we have brilliant processes in place, and we’ve got so many amazing volunteers, we can start to look further afield. We’re already seeing the benefit of the Audi Foundation partnership by being able to say yes to a shelter in the Northern Territory that recently reached out to us. Having the security of funding will really help our expansion and that’s just so important to us.”
“We’ve always said that we would never take on other shelters if there was any risk we couldn’t continue supporting those that were already registered with us. We’re happy that so far, we’ve never had to knock back a reasonable request for help,” says David Bevan, Zephyr Education Co-Founder.
As well as outreach, Zephyr hopes this charitable partnership will create more awareness around the need to support children who have already gone through what no child should ever have to endure.
“The long-term benefits of having a child stable in their education, just makes such a difference,” David says.
Over the course of the next 12 months, the Audi Foundation’s grant will be used by Zephyr Education to fund the purchase of uniforms, stationery, laptops, resource fees and other school expenses for around 500 children, helping them make the difficult transition to a new school and hopefully a new and brighter future. In addition, the funding will help alleviate a significant financial and emotional concern facing the parents and allow them to focus on the many other pressing issues confronting them during such a difficult and traumatic time.
With National Women's Safety Alliance (NWSA) recently releasing new findings which show nine-out-of-10 domestic, family, and sexual violence frontline services have reported an increase in demand since the COVID pandemic began, the need for charities like Zephyr has never been more important.
“The long-term benefits of having a child stable in their education, just makes such a difference,”
Want to ensure you always receive the latest news and features from Audi? Subscribe now to the Audi Magazine newsletter.