AN Ocean Grove house will soon welcome and support teenage girls struggling to get through the routine and demands of the final two years of secondary schooling.
Debbie’s Place is a temporary home away from home which will provide accommodation and support for three teenage girls from the Bellarine. A first of its kind in Victoria, the two-year pilot project was launched at Driftwood Café in Ocean Grove last week.
Jane Carrigg is behind Debbie’s Place and said the launch was very well attended and received.
Speakers included Ms Carrigg, Bellarine MP Lisa Neville, and incumbent Venerable Jill McCoy from the Anglican Parish of Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.
Ms Carrigg, who has been working on the project for the past four years, said her mission was to see at-risk girls from the Bellarine successfully completing VCE/VCAL studies, equipped for independent living and prepared for the careers of their choice.
She said she chose Ocean Grove because it was a community hub, which offered many opportunities for the girls.
“They will be part of a community in Ocean Grove and they’ll be able to get jobs, are close to shops, buses, the gym, or they can even go for a surf if they want to.”
The residents of Debbie’s Place, also known as The Bellarine VCE Girl’s House, will be supported daily by a live-in adult mentor and supervisor and a team of dedicated volunteers.
They will also learn living skills, share responsibilities of household management, prep meals, budget, and even take part in driver training.
Ms Carrigg said she was interviewing candidates for the house manager position, and once appointed, would start receiving referrals for potential residents.
Debbie’s Place was named in honour of Debbie Clingeleffer-Woodford, a teacher at Geelong Grammar, a rowing coach, and a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games who was passionate about education.
Sadly, Debbie passed unexpectedly and her family wanted her legacy and passion to live on.
“When Debbie’s husband Russell and daughter Kate heard of our project, they generously committed to partner with us and offered what was their family home in Ocean Grove,” she said.
“Like Debbie, we also believe that secondary education opens up opportunities for girls to not only make choices in their own lives but in turn impacts the lives of others.”
Debbie’s Place is supported by the Anglican Church of Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, Korus Connect, the churches and community of the Bellarine Peninsula and the Melbourne Anglican Foundation.
For more information, head to debbiesplacebellarine.com.au.