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That’s what WA Charity Direct (WACD) is all about. St Stephen’s School students have been partners in this work since 2017 and in 2024 we’re taking an important step forward in our working relationship! 

WACD was established in 2005, founded on the principle of 100 per cent giving, and to date they’ve donated more than $3 million back to the WA community. 

Our partnership with WACD began in 2017 when their ambassador, former Perth Wildcat Captain Damian Martin and our then Service-Learning Co-ordinator Donna Lund formed the St Stephen’s School – WACD Student Committee. This group of students from both campuses meet regularly to facilitate a WACD donation to those who need it most in the local WA community. 

We’re incredibly proud that since our partnership began, the WACD Student Committee has distributed $107,200 WACD funds to locals in need including Rocky Bay, Vincent’s Project, and a number of individuals and families facing physical, emotional or financial hardship. 

The WACD Student Committee function has matured over time, so in 2024 we’re ready to take the next step by raising our own funds through sponsorship and fundraising to support groups, individuals and families in need. 

L to R: Samara Flanagan, Kyra Bartels, Luke Shirdon

Current members of the St Stephen’s WACD Student Committee are Carramar Year 10 students Luke Shirdon, Samara Flanagan and Kyra Bartels. They’re joined by Duncraig Year 9s Daniel Owen, Olivia Robinson and Naamah Ball. 

Kyra and Samara have been involved in the Committee since primary school. 

“We were approached in year 6 to be involved and it was the first-time year sixes were invited. It was a great opportunity. We have a lot of empathy for people dealing with hardship and wanted to be involved in a charity”, said Kyra. 

Samara agreed, “We didn’t know much about it at first, but I was grateful to be chosen.”  

It was this involvement that inspired Luke to nominate for the Committee. “I started in 2023 after I saw the presentation by other Committee members. I like the fact that WACD help people who don’t get government funding, and I really liked working with people who reached out directly to us on the Committee,” said Luke. 

Students from both campuses come together to discuss and make decisions on how best to allocate the limited resources they have from WA Charity Direct.  Luke explained, “We first meet as campus team and then we have multiple cross-campus meetings to make the final decisions”.  

L to R: Olivia Robinson, Daniel Owen, Naamah Ball.

“Yes, we meet regularly with Duncraig campus to collaborate and research on who we should donate money to. We interview the candidates and gather information,” said Samara. “We look in the news and around in the community for organisations who would benefit most from the money”. 

The WACD Student Committee hasn’t just made an impact on the local community. It’s also had a profound effect on our students. 

“It’s been really enlightening to see the impact on the community and how funds can help people. I have felt really inspired to see the actual impact of everything we’ve done”, said Luke. 

Kyra is similarly affected, “It’s made me grow as a person and opened my eyes to how grateful I am for everyday things that other people don’t have. It’s been great to do this as part of my school”.  

Samara feels that involvement in the Committee has also made her more empathic. She said, “I feel like it has made me more mature being part of such a good program. The applicants’ stories have been very emotional for me. It’s made me grow as a leader. I would never even know that people were having these challenging experiences if I were not involved in the program”. 

Our current Service Learning Co-ordinator, Stephen Meagher, is a strong proponent of the WA Charity Direct Student Committee, and is committed to supporting the students in raising funds themselves in 2024. 

“The WACD Student Committee really is an extension of the service learning program which is about helping people in the community. The Committee was established to allow our students to be exposed to business people who engage in philanthropy and to develop skills of philanthropy for themselves,” said Stephen. “The empathy is already there in our kids. They just need to be presented with an opportunity to do something about it”. 

2023 WACD recipients
This week we were excited to announce the 2023 recipients of the WA Charity Direct funding during a school assembly. 

“It was a difficult decision but in 2023 we have agreed to share funding with Saba Rose Button Foundation, Kind Sisters and Armed For Life,” said Daniel. “There was a lot of discussion about who to donate to and how much. There is a lot of pressure because there are so many people that need it. Even though all the groups are really worthwhile only a few can receive each year,” he continued.

Olivia agreed that it was a rigorous and challenging process for the WACD Student Committee, “There are a lot of tough decision when dealing with not for profits. They all have important missions.”  

Naamah added, “We want to give to everyone. Having an annual program means that we know that we can give to others next year but it’s still hard to know that someone worthy is missing out in 2023”. 

There was a very clear strategy in how the money was allocated in 2023.  Olivia explains the thinking behind the donation to the Saba Rose Button Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting children and families living with additional needs. “We liked the fact that this group has a really clear picture of where money will go. They will be using the funds in the North West of the state to purchase a treadmill that will help kids in rehabilitation to walk again,” said Olivia. 

Naamah commented, “We liked the idea that this donation was going to help a lot of kids in a remote community.”

The second donation is to a not-for-profit based in the City of Stirling called ‘Kind Sisters’.  Naamah went on to explain the Committee’s motivation behind this donation. “Kind Sisters are helping Ukraine refugees in our area which is an urgent issue. Right now big influx of people trying to make a fresh start in 2023. That’s why we prioritised funding their work this year.” 

The third donation was to support youth mental health programs run by Armed For Life. Daniel was very much in support of this donation. “They do a lot in mental health which is not as well supported as physical health, and this money will help a lot of kids who really need it,” said Daniel.  

 It’s clear that there was a lot of rigorous debate amongst the students in making this very challenging and important decision. We’re extremely proud of our emerging philanthropists and look forward to supporting their fundraising ventures in 2024.