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Australia

From a tough start to a dream career

Growing up in state care, Cassandra didn’t have a lot of self-esteem.

Now she’s using her experience to show others “their self-worth and beauty” through a new photography business.

The 28-year-old from the northern suburbs is among hundreds of young people to receive grants to help achieve their goals while in the state system, or live independently in the years that follow.

“Being a photographer has been a dream of mine ever since I was in care,” said Cassandra, who did not want to give her surname.

After entering the system at age nine and having to “constantly move between carers” Cassandra said she “lacked self-esteem and confidence”.

“This feeling followed me into adulthood until I was able to make a positive change and pursue something I am passionate about,” she said.

Last financial year, 161 applications for Dame Roma Mitchell Grants were approved, worth $139,107, to fund everything from furniture and whitegoods to driving lessons and further study.

The grants are jointly funded by government and public donations.

Cassandra’s grant covered a camera, lens, filters, photography backdrop and laptop to kickstart her business, A Woman’s Worth Imagery, which will launch in November.

“My plan is to hire more people who were like me when I was younger … to provide them with a positive role model and give them an outlet,” she said.

Other grants have included:

$2399 to buy a bedroom suite, lounge suite and fridge for a 28-year-old moving into public housing.

$610 to help a 21-year-old woman complete a nationally accredited barista course.

$500 to buy clothing and footwear for a 22-year-old man in his final year of study in performing arts.

Child Protection Department chief executive Cathy Taylor said there were “always more” applications for grants than could be funded and urged people to donate.

Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson said there was “no reason why young people who have spent time in care cannot achieve their goals” and encouraged applications for the latest round of grants which close on September 23.

For more information search Dame Roma Mitchell Grants at www.sa.gov.au

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