Breelin Frederick is 18 years old and doesn’t want to make a mess for Schoolies … she wants to make a difference.
You’re currently completing your HSC. Which school do you go to, and what subjects are you studying?
I go to St Columba Anglican School, I have done since Year 5 in 2005. I am currently doing the HSC, and it is pretty busy at the moment. I have studied Advanced English, Business Studies, Legal Studies, Studies of Religion and Continuers Japanese. There is a lot of content in most of my subjects and it is challenging sometimes, but I chose subjects that I had an interest, in so I’ve actually enjoyed the last two years.
Instead of taking part in the traditional ‘Schoolies’ week activities after your HSC is completed, you’re proposing a very different idea. What exactly is the ‘Australian Chin Up team’ concept you’ve come up with?
The Australian Chin Up Team (ACUT) Program is designed to build leadership skills into young people, whilst giving them an enjoyable and memorable alternative Schoolies experience. It aims to expand the horizons of our volunteers and challenge their comfort zones. It will, along with finished HSC students, be open to university students and adults with a positive and hard working, change the world attitude. It also aims to create a memorable cultural experience, that allows the team to represent Australian culture to the global community.
Designed as an alternative Schoolies program, the trip consists of 2 – 3 weeks of humanitarian based work in the areas in and around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The team will take part in activities with the orphanage, Chin Refugee Centre and Epic, who build homes for the Malaysian Aboriginals.
I have previously been to Malaysia and volunteered in the orphanage before and through the friendships there and the generosity of Mr Morrison, the Shadow Immigration Minister, connecting my father and I with the Chin Centre, the program started to develop.
I thought it might be fun to have friends along with me and that we could have our own type of Schoolies. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass, but I have had incredible interest from other students at St Columba, and the support from my teachers has inspired me.
If the children of Australia learn to do good without expectation of reward, I believe it can only be good for our nation’s collective character. The other alternative is self destruction through self indulgence. So one of my goals for this program is to offer an alternative perception of life.
What was the inspiration behind the concept?
My parents brought me up to give more than I get and to think big. We are blessed in this land. To whom much is given, much is expected. I don’t see this as a threat, but a challenge I aim to meet – as clichéd as that might be.
The reason I originally came up with the program was because I had no interest in going to Schoolies. In my business class in 2011, our major task was to create a business plan. My success in the Newcastle Business Competition gave me the confidence to improve my skills and develop new ideas. This is why I began developing the Australian Chin Up Team business plan: below is the executive summary.
How many of you are going overseas this year?
I will be taking with me a team of 10: students from St Columba, Regional High School, St Paul’s and McKillop, my parents and a family friend. This year I hope will be the prototype for the program that will run again in 2013. I hope to run this program for 5 – 10 years myself, and then during that time teach a successor how to run and also pass on the program. My personal goal for the program is to create foster leaders who lead by serving – leaders who gracefully hand over the reins when the time is best.
What do you hope the team will achieve while in Malaysia?
The groups of refugees that we will be involved with are those who have been waiting to come to Australia for up to seven years. Instead of making a fuss about what we can’t do, my goal is to give them what we can. I believe that the essence of Australia is in our youth, so we’re ‘bringing the BEST of Australia to the global community’. I also hope that for our team it will plant a seed of enthusiasm and drive to make a difference in people’s lives. Even at my age, I’m hoping to share with the team the idea that changing one person’s world might as well be changing the whole world.
You hope that the Australian Chin Up Team will become an annual initiative. How can the public help to ensure the program’s continuing success?
The goal of the team each year will be to raise between $10,000 – $15,000. Different organisations and individuals will also receive the opportunity to sponsor the trip by donating finance and resources to the program. So that we can run the program again next year and years into the future, the public can help support this program by making a donation at the Hope Shop to firstname.lastname@example.org in the name of the Australian Chin Up Team. Or to get more information, to make enquiries about making a donation, or make a specific type of donation, businesses or individuals can contact me directly at: email@example.com
The team members are (in order of the single line photo, left to right; Wil Wright, Maggie Mowle, Eleanor Wright, Sophie Stark, Charlotte Coleman, Breelin Frederick, Claudia Stark, Ellinore Frederick, Jordan Munro and Brandon Robinson. Missing from the photo is Isabel Hall.)
Interview by Jo Atkins.