Moving forward…. Aware becomes Creative Spark



Igniting creativity; sparking sustainable futures

Working under the banner Aware has enabled our organisation to grow and create new projects in Cambodia, Kenya, Honduras and in Australia and to foster creative community development outcomes.

Over the past five years, as Aware, we have strengthened our strategy, mission and volunteer program whilst highlighting the multitude of issues confronting women and children world wide.

Working as Aware we feel that we have raised awareness of the issues facing women in rural Cambodia, the complexity upon arrival confronting newly settled refugee children in Melbourne alongside the issues facing street children in Kenya. Our awareness raising has been represented through our work on the ground alongside our community engagement which includes our fundraising and social media activities and the development of our online community.

We are now moving into a new phase in our history and with the launch of our new brand/logo/name, Creative Spark, we are putting the emphasis of our name on our work rather than focusing on bringing awareness to the underlying issues our work addresses.

Creative Spark reflects what drives us as an organisation. Creative Spark essentially represents what we do on a daily basis, that is, design, implement and evaluate creative projects which provide a foundation for women and children to realise their potential and work toward their own sustainable and creative livelihoods.

We play an active role in providing the spark that ignites their inner potential enabling them to realise their futures, hopes and aspirations in an increasingly challenging world.

The development of our image into Creative Spark would not have been possible without the time, enthusiasm talent and dedicated of the design team at Indietech, a Melbourne based web design consultancy. Special mention also goes out to Juan Gonzalez Telmo, Michi Ohira, Kezia Meskanen, Gabriel Guarino, and Flor Antara putting together our new website, logo and bi-line. Thanks to your work our brand really does now represent what we do.

We ask you to embrace our organisation as you always have and to join us on this new journey into creating sustainable futures for women and children worldwide and in achieving community development outcomes by using our creative community development model.

So sit back, browse our new interactive website, which houses our new blog,  engage with us on Twitter and facebook, to keep up to date with our news, events, and volunteer opportunities, and realise the ability of creative programs to inspire change and provide sustainable futures for women and children in communities worldwide.


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Creative Community Development at Aware

Art transcends boundaries, language and culture and unifies people through creative self expression, reflection and engagement.

At Aware we provide arts-based programs to foster social engagement and confidence building with refugee children in Melbourne, to build the sustainable livelihoods of women in Cambodia and to integrate education into the lives of street children in Kenya.

We believe art has the power to transform lives,  strengthen communities, foster self-expression, and creativity while building sustainable livelihoods and futures for women, children and youth locally and abroad.

Creative community development projects, such as Aware’s Wool for Women & Creative Sparks programs, provide people with the opportunity to build self-confidence, learn new skills, forge new friendships, whilst exploring ideas, creativity, self-awareness and community engagement.

Such self-development enables people to hope, and believe in the sustainability of their futures and livelihoods.

In a study, commissioned by Melbourne based organisation The Song Room (link to Song Room- ) (2010), the value of creative arts based projects for people from refugee backgrounds was noted as crucial to developing social relationships within their new communities, often a daunting and challenging task for newly settled refugee children.

Participants involved in creative community development programs, similar to Creative Sparks, have also  “reported feeling less shy, more confident and developing greater self- esteem in learning new skills through, particularly once they discover they can master a particular skill or art form that can be shared with others, such as peers, teachers and parents” (TSR 2010).

Providing Aware’s project participants with the opportunity to explore their self expression in a safe and welcoming environment among their peers also enables them to explore their own sense of cultural identity whilst developing new skills and forging new social relationships.

Aware’s community development model is inclusive, engaging, dynamic and provides an opportunity for Aware’s project participants to explore their past whilst developing their futures via creative avenues.

Art in community development projects and strategies, such as Aware’s, provides women, children and youth the opportunity to reflect, explore and envision their futures; a crucial building block to achieving wider community development objectives.

Aware’s creative community development programs most significantly however, promote awareness among women, children and youth of the possibilities of their own creative and sustainable livelihoods.

To learn how you can get involved with Aware to strengthen creative community development programs internationally please visit our website.

Creative Sparks Oct 2012 (5)

Creative Sparks, Melbourne, 2012

Art produced at our partner in Kenya, 2010

Creative expressions, Kenya, 2010

Wool for Women, Cambodia, 2012

Wool for Women, Cambodia, 2012

 Written by Louella Fitzsimmons

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Thanks to our supporters, Wool for Women is Pozible!

As the end of our pozible campaign edges closer we would again like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has pledged their support for our Wool for Women; Crafting in Cambodia project in 2013. The support we have received has been unprecedented and will help Aware in delivering Wool for Women 2013.

This Friday our pozible campaign will come to an end and we are hoping to reach $4000 which is more indicative of the running costs for our Wool for Women project.

Over the past few weeks we have watched as pledge after pledge has rolled in, strengthening our program and also strengthening our belief in the work we do here at Aware. Your support has been humbling and a real joy to be a part of.

To help us reach $4000 by Friday we are asking our supoprters, new and old, to spread the word via social media or to dig a little deeper and throw some spare change Aware’s way.

Your help will enable Aware to provide training and skill development for the women at Kampot run social enterprise Dorsu, helping them secure the sustainability of their creative livelihoods.

To learn more and to Pledge your support now please visit ‘Wool for Women; Crafting in Cambodia’ on Pozible.

wool for women flyer poz

Written by Louella Fitzsimmons

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Restoring Hope & Sparking Creativity this World Refugee Day

June 20 marks World Refugee Day and as part of Refugee Week Australians are being asked to reflect on the concept of ‘Restoring Hope’.

Creative Sparks 2013-6

Photograph by Rita McNeill 

Restoring Hope reflects the fact that a refugee’s journey, whilst tainted with fear, also begins with belief, aspiration and hope.

 Refugee Week 2013 is designed to raise awareness about the issues facing refugees whilst also providing a platform to celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees in Australian society.

Australia has become the permanent home to more than 750,000 refugees since Federation.

 Refugee Week 2013 also hopes to highlight the need for developed countries to provide an environment conducive to enabling future refugees the opportunity to take advantage of the hopes and lives our societies provide.

 Restoring Hope not only signifies the thematic undercurrent directing Refugee Week events across the country but also reflects the broader drive behind Aware’s work with Karen refugee children throughout the wider Melbourne community.

 Karen refugees have been successfully resettled in Australia with Melbourne’s outer-Western region providing the backdrop for a growing Karen community. Karen people are continuously forced to flee Myanmar due to military oppression, discrimination and human rights violations. UNHCR estimates social upheaval and military rule has created 415,300 Burmese refugees with the total population for concern, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and asylum seekers, within Burma being estimated at 871,364 (UNHCR 2013).

 At Aware we believe working within the Karen community, in partnership with the New Hope Foundation, through our Creative Sparks program helps newly settled refugee children to engage, develop and thrive within their new community whilst enabling them to creatively express themselves and build self-confidence.

Aware’s Creative Sparks program provides a safe, engaging and friendly environment for Karen children to explore their identities and creative expression, an activity often unknown to them previously with a high number of project participants having been born and raised within refugee settlements throughout Asia.

Restoring Hope not only signifies the theme of Refugee Week but also reflects Aware’s goal to assist in providing programs which enable Karen refugees to realise their new lives, hopes and ambitions in Australia.

To learn more about our Creative Sparks program click here.

More information about the New Hope Foundation can also be found here.

Written by Louella Fitzsimmons

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wool for women flyer back

Here at Aware, we would again like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has pledged their personal contribution to our 2013 Wool for Women Pozible campaign.

To coincide with our Pozible campaign we are now launching Aware’s annual Wool Drive to provide much needed materials for our 2013 Wool for Women project this July in Kampot, Cambodia.

Wool for Women provides unique creative skill development and training workshops for women working at Kampot run social enterprise Dorsu.

The women of Dorsu create garments, whilst providing a local and international sewing service, working out of their own store in Kampot, Cambodia with revenue supporting the local Chumkriel Language School (CLS).

Wool for Women builds the skills of women working at Dorsu and asissts in helping them consolidate their creative and sustainable livelihoods in regional Cambodia.

As part of our annual Wool Drive we are asking our supporters to part with wool, ideally of 8 ply, new or old (whether purchased especially for the occasion or whether gathered from the recesses of your linen closet amidst other misdirected creative projects.. ) to help the women of Dorsu to build their skills and to make Wool for Women 2013 a success.


Donations can be organised by contacting Stacey via

Your contribution in Aware’s 2013 Wool Drive will help foster the creative livelihoods of women working at Dorsu and help drive positive change in their lives.

 Written by Louella Fitzsimmons  

Categories: Cambodia, Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Making Crafting in Cambodia pozible; securing sustainable livelihoods for women

 In May, Aware launched its Wool for Women; Crafting in Cambodia fundraising drive/campaign through crowd funding platform Pozible.  Aware’s Pozible campaign will raise the funds needed for the July instalment of the program whilst helping secure the project’s sustainability in Cambodia.

Our Pozible target is $2,500 (we are starting safe and smallish) but the total project budget is closer to $4000. This will cover the costs of travelling to and staying in Kampot, and materials for running the workshops. Any funds received above the target will go towards the full funding of the project or towards supporting Aware’s other projects in Kenya and Australia.

wool for women flyer poz

This July Aware volunteers will travel to Kampot, Cambodia, to deliver the second instalment of Aware’s Wool for Women program in collaboration with Cambodian run social enterprise Dorsu.

Wool for Women is a series of creative workshops designed to facilitate positive change in the lives of women working at Dorsu by fostering and developing creative wool based skills to consolidate their sustainable livelihoods.

The women of Dorsu work to create garments, and other creative handicrafts, whilst providing wholesale sewing services locally and abroad, with profits funding Kampot’s Chumkriel Language School. Dorsu provides a safe and positive work environment with regular hours and a competitive salary alongside unique training opportunities in garment production and customer service.

Aware’s work, in partnership with Dorsu, provides a valuable capacity building opportunity for women in a region where they often lack access to quality education and vocational training. Women living in regional Cambodia are often unable to partake in training opportunities without an income and therefore miss out on building their skills and establishing sustainable livelihoods. Wool for Women provides a unique opportunity for the women of Dorsu to earn an income while receiving training and learning new skills.  Aware’s in house workshops ensure a safe and welcoming environment in which training is accessible for all.

Wool for Women was launched in 2012 and Aware is looking forward to building on the successes of last year. The women at Dorsu quickly picked up the new skills and were consistently eager to learn more and to produce new items for the Dorsu store.

By contributing your pledge to our Wool for Women; Crafting in Cambodia Pozible campaign you will be contributing to skills based learning opportunities for women in Cambodia and helping them secure their own sustainable livelihoods of the future.

Written by Louella Fitzsimmons

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Creative Sparks – the growth of a local project

Creative Sparks 2013-3

Aware’s commitment to facilitating positive change and empowering communities through creativity and self-expression was consolidated by the completion of the second Creative Sparks program in May 2013.

Aware collaborated with the New Hope Foundation (from March – May) to successfully deliver its creative workshops for local Karen refugee children living in the Wyndham region West of Melbourne.

Building on the success of the 2012 program, this year Creative Sparks again provided a safe, stable and engaging environment for newly settled Karen children to be creative, build self-esteem, self-worth and a greater connection with their new community.

Weekly workshops utilised a variety of art therapy techniques, from music and visualisation exercises to meditation and relaxation techniques, to ignite the creativity of project participants whilst creating a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere conducive to artistic expression.

Creative Sparks enabled participating children to explore their own forms of creativity whilst developing a final piece for exhibition titled ‘My Future Me, Self Portrait’. The final self-portrait piece allowed the children to reflect on their pasts while exploring their future dreams, aspirations and possibilities within their new communities.

Aware volunteer co-facilitator Sarah noted the children’s self-portrait work as a highlight during her involvement on the project as it “empowered participants to visualise a positive future. It gave them the space and opportunity to dream”.

Visualising a positive future is of growing importance among Karen children as Karen people continue to flee Burma due to military oppression and discrimination. Burmese and Karen refugees have been successfully settled in Australia through the Australian Government humanitarian settlement program with Melbourne’s western region welcoming a growing Karen community.

The success of Creative Sparks in 2013 has strengthened Aware’s ongoing collaboration with the New Hope Foundation and the longevity of the Creative Sparks program. The dynamic nature of Creative Sparks means that future projects will utilise alternative creative outlets, such as jewellery making, photography and theatre, to continue to foster creativity, confidence and self-expression among refugee children.

 Written by Louella Fitzsimmons 

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A huge thanks to our dedicated volunteers!


Over the last year we have had over 20 volunteers donate their time and skills to Aware, allowing us to achieve some amazing outcomes. This week Australia celebrates National Volunteer Week and Aware would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers for helping Aware grow in 2012 and 2013.

With the help and commitment of our volunteers Aware launched two new and ongoing projects in 2012 – Wool for Women and Creative Sparks.

Aware now works to strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of an inspiring group of Cambodian women, with our project Wool for Women, and we are continuing to build our relationship with partner organisation Dorsu.

Creative Sparks has been a successful introduction to working in the Australian context and has allowed us to engage with many more Melbourne based volunteers whilst enabling Aware to broaden its partnership base locally and see the smiles on the faces of many new participants.

The growing size of our volunteer base has increased our fundraising capacity to nearly double our revenue over the last two years. Tireless fundraising efforts allow us to run the programs that we do, the value of fundraising support cannot be overstated.

Our new volunteer board members have been working hard to develop a (soon to be finished) 3-year strategic plan. The first steering document of its type for Aware, this will allow us to grow sustainably in the years to come.

We have also been lucky enough in the last year to be offered the probono help of many professionals to help us work on branding, marketing, communications, fundraising, internet presence and data management.

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time to Aware over the last year. We are a small organisation with limited resources and your flexibility, adaptability and capacity to work within constraints is admirable.

It’s been a pleasure to work with you all and your support is greatly appreciated. Aware is looking forward to continue working with its volunteer base in the future to deliver arts based projects to help deliver sustainable and positive change.

To learn more about Aware and to find out how to volunteer please visit

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Rewarding Volunteer Opportunities

Great news, Aware is recruiting for two new volunteers!!!
We are in need of a Fundraising Manager to plan an take responsibility for our fundraising efforts moving forward. The role will include using a wide range of fundraising techniques as we build our financial sustainability.
And, a Volunteer Program Assistant who will work towards strengthening our volunteer program to ensure that the organisation can continue to grow. The role will include developing induction packs and volunteer professional development workshops.
Applications for both positions close at 5pm on May 29th, please forward CV and cover letter to
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Comedy for the Cause

Comedian Matthew Grantham has kindly offered up one of his shows at the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival to Aware to raise money.

Matt Grantham

Tickets $15, available here.

Fad Gallery, 14 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
7.20pm, Tuesday April 9th

*Please print ticket and present at the door.

– All proceeds go towards our projects in Australia and overseas.

comedy fest

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