Empowering Young Women: Jessica Brown’s Warrior Woman Foundation

In this interview, we have the pleasure of speaking with Jessica Brown, the passionate founder of the Warrior Woman Foundation. Jessica’s journey began as a high school teacher in Western Sydney, where she witnessed the struggles of young women in out-of-home care. 

Motivated by a desire to make a lasting impact, she created the Warrior Woman Foundation in 2020, aiming to support these vulnerable young women as they transition into adulthood. Through comprehensive programs focusing on financial literacy, healthy relationships, and mental health, Jessica and her foundation provide essential support and empowerment. 

Jessica, could you start by telling us about the moment you decided to create the Warrior Woman Foundation? What was the catalyst for this journey? 

As a high school teacher in Western Sydney I constantly witnessed young women and girls falling between the gaps of the education and welfare systems. Young women who had grown up in out-of-home-care were some of the most vulnerable students that I taught and most at risk of poor life outcomes for themselves and their own children.

According to the Create Foundation, young women who have been in care are 10x more likely to have their own children removed into care. 

I first founded Sister2Sister which delivered the Life Changing Experiences program for young women. This program was based on mentoring and supported young women to change the trajectory of their lives and reach their potential. 

During this time, my life was irrevocably changed by the death of my brother. My brother was murdered by a young man who had grown up in care. This young man had multiple placements during his childhood as his mum battled drug addiction. 

This reinforced to me the absolute necessity to provide young people leaving care with the support, skills and knowledge to lead safe, secure and independent lives as adults. 

I founded The Warrior Woman Foundation (TWWF) in 2020 to deliver a dedicated and comprehensive program for young women leaving care. The Young Warrior Woman Program is a multi-discipline, wrap-around program for young women that covers: financial literacy; money management; healthy relationships; identifying abuse and coercion; sexual health; mental health; help seeking behaviour; employment and; housing security. The Young Warrior Woman Program is led by evidence and based on Self-Determination Theory. 

With your foundation’s focus on vulnerable young women, what are some of the unique challenges these women face that you aim to address through your programs? 

TWWF has a particular focus on young women leaving the out-of-home-care system on their 21st birthday, the date at which all government-based support ceases in NSW. The loss of this safety net is compounded for young women with: trauma; abuse; low educational attainment; poor mental health; high rates of teen pregnancy and; high rates of alcohol and drug addiction. 

Young women leaving care are among the most vulnerable, marginalised and traumatised groups in the Australian community. Each year, over 1500 young women leave care on, or before, their 21st birthday. 

According to the 2021 Leaving Care Report, by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian, within 12 months of leaving care, 50% of young women end up unemployed, in jail, homeless and/or become a young parent. 

Young women leaving care do not have the option of returning home to live with parents when they struggle financially, fail to secure safe housing or need the emotional support that many young Australian women take for granted. 

According to the Create Foundation, up to 28% of young women leaving care become young mums. These young mums are ten times more likely to have their own child removed, adding to their trauma and perpetuating the generational cycle of trauma, abuse, marginalisation and disadvantage. 

Intervening in this “revolving door” of care is essential to ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for young women currently leaving care and for generations to come. Critical to the prevention of unemployment, imprisonment, homelessness and pregnancy is economic empowerment through financial literacy, employment support, peer work and mentoring. 

I read that the Warrior Woman Foundation provides education, mentorship, and more. Could you share a success story that particularly resonates with you? 

I would love to share Kaylah’s story: 

My case worker suggested I do the Young Warrior Woman Program to learn the life-skills I needed to become independent and live on my own. It was an amazing program. I met other young women like me who were going through similar things. The program was exactly what I needed to build the confidence to believe in myself and set goals for the future. I was matched with a really nice mentor who listened to my problems and helped me get a part time job. Our weekly Zoom catch ups really helped me with my mental health. All of the group presentations were inspiring, and we also did a six-week money management course which helped a lot. I now know how to do my taxes and how to spend and save my money wisely. Thanks to the help of my mentor who didn’t give up on me, I’m now enrolled in TAFE to begin the process of finishing school and becoming an early childhood teacher. I’ve learnt so many skills to be independent and know that when I eventually move out independently, I will be able to stand on my own two feet. I’m finally proud of myself. Even though the program is finished, my mentor still calls me, and I made so many friends during the program that I don’t feel alone anymore. I have suggested this program to many other young women who are in the same position I was. I want them to know that there is help out there and people who care. I have no idea where I would be if I had not joined the Young Warrior Woman Program.

Safety is a significant concern for women in Sydney, as highlighted by recent reports. How does the Warrior Woman Foundation help young women feel safer in their daily lives? 

Safety is absolutely an ongoing concern for women and girls in NSW. The Warrior Woman Foundation helps young women feel safer in their daily lives by providing them with education, skills and support to identify and prevent abuse.

The Young Warrior Woman Program includes evidence-based partner courses that add specific knowledge and skills to the program. One of these is DV Moving Forward which is a psycho-education program that supports young women to identify abuse and coercion and understand how to deal with it.

This program empowers young women to understand their rights and to identify healthy relationships moving forward. The MoneyGirl program is also key to this by educating young women on financial abuse and supporting them to build financial literacy and money management skills so that they can independently manage their own finances. 

You’ve worked with many young women dealing with the repercussions of family violence. Can you discuss how trauma healing is integrated into your support programs? 

The Warrior Woman Foundation takes a trauma-informed approach to all facets of The Young Warrior Woman Program. All staff and mentors receive training in trauma-informed care as well as Accidental Counsellor to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to provide support to young women with complex trauma.

Healing from trauma is built into the program through dedicated courses such as DV Moving Forward as well as through group workshops where participants and mentors work in groups to share experiences and form healthy new friendships with each other. Participants are also supported by mentors and program facilitators to engage in individual therapy. 

The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be complex. How do your foundation’s programs specifically support young women in making this transition more confidently and independently? 

One of the key components of The Young Warrior Woman Program is mentoring. Each young woman who participates in the program receives 6-months of one-on-one mentoring from a Mentor who is a woman with life experience and training in mentoring and Accidental Counsellor.

Working with their mentor on a weekly basis, participants receive dedicated support to: get a job; secure safe housing; build healthy relationships and networks; seek help for mental illness. This one-on-one support builds the confidence of participants to set, and achieve, goals as well as tackle any issues they are currently facing.

Mentors utilise their life experience to support participants through the transition from adolescence to adulthood and build their confidence and self-esteem to ensure they reach their potential. 

In light of the increasing vulnerability among women, especially in urban areas, what changes would you like to see at the community or governmental level to enhance women’s safety and well-being? 

At a community level I would like to see a change in attitude towards women and the impact of violence against women. Violence against women has long been viewed as a women’s issue rather than a whole-of-community issue. To enhance women’s safety and wellbeing, everyone in the community must take responsibility for creating a safe environment for women and girls. 

At a government level, I welcome the increased investment in domestic and family violence services. This investment must include a broad range of services including services to support perpetrators change their behaviour. This investment must continue for decades into the future to ensure that changes to attitudes and behaviour are made at community level. 

Finally, for someone who wants to support or get involved with the Warrior Woman Foundation, what can they do to make a meaningful impact? 

There are several ways that people can make a meaningful impact by becoming involved with The Warrior Woman Foundation. Women can become Mentors for The Young Warrior Woman Program and provide one-on-one support to a participant of the program. Members of the community, organisations and corporates can become involved as donors or sponsors for the organisation.

Donors and sponsors are incredibly important as they ensure a diversity of income for the organisation so that it is not completely reliant on grants. The Warrior Woman Foundation is seeking sponsors for The Young Warrior Woman Program as well as The Warrior Woman Alumni. The Warrior Woman Alumni provides ongoing support for participants beyond the program.

Through the Alumni, they can maintain contact with mentors, peers and continue to engage in learning opportunities. Find out more about donating your time or funds at

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