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Westpac Mary Reibey levels education playing field, again

29 February 2016

Judy Tanna The Smith Family

In 2022 The Smith Family celebrates 100 years. Long recognised for its work in welfare, few of us would know it, but this not-for-profit is the largest provider of support for disadvantaged children and families in the education space, nationally and has been forging that role in education for more than 20 years.

According to Judy Tanna (above0, The Smith Family’s National Major Gift Manager, supporting a child's education is one of the most effective ways to help break the cycle of disadvantage.

Research shows children and young people living in disadvantage have access to fewer books and learning materials in the home. As these children get older, they have fewer role models, and access to mentors and the networks critical for creating educational opportunities and motivating them to learn.

By providing emotional, practical and financial support through its ‘Learning for Life’ program, The Smith Family supports these children and young people with their education.

Recently, Judy completed the six-day live-in AGSM General Manager course as part of her Mary Reibey scholarship win and would agree that education – no matter what the level - brings advantages.

“I loved the work we did in the GM course on developing our presentation skills: posture, breathing, attitude and how people read you before and after your time on stage.

“The reality is that you’re on from the moment you enter the room not from when you get up to present. You need to be prepared before you even enter the room. And you have to have planned your exit.

“My job includes speaking on behalf of The Smith Family at fundraisers, etc. and yet I hadn’t really given that part of my role much thought,” explains Judy, who was able to refine her elevator pitch to much benefit.

Two nights after she finished the course she gave a speech at a gathering of members of The Australian Institute of Company Directors and “nailed it”. It was a speech to launch The Children’s Future Education Fund, which is an endowment fund that will ensure the long-term sustainability of The Smith Family. The opportunity to attend the GM course gave Judy the skills she needed to articulate the impact that the proceeds of the endowment fund will have by providing assistance to thousands of children living in disadvantage in Australia.

For Judy the focus on the holistic in the course was also a surprise: “We worked with a coach on physical well-being, providing an overview on our personal and professional lives. There was a quadrant devoted to relaxation, something I’d not encountered before. My score of zero out of ten indicated it was not something I valued.”

“As a single working mum I push myself hard. The challenge around focussing everything on work is that without relaxation you and your family suffer and that can’t be good in the long run. It’s not about exercise or having a hobby but about creating time to contemplate. The underlying end is to recharge your batteries because you cannot assume your battery will recharge itself.

“It was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me, and I made a commitment to utilise all of the great teachings of the course to ensure that I have enough energy to be productive and present at work and at home. This is going to be life-changing for me and my family.”

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