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Gidget Foundation Australia was founded almost 20 years ago, after a great tragedy. Gidget was the nickname of a much-loved young mum, who was suffering from postnatal depression. Surrounded by loving family and friends, the extent of her suffering was unknown even to them, until she took her own life, leaving behind her 9-month-old daughter, and devastated loved ones.

It was Gidget’s beautiful sisters and best friends who gathered amidst their own grief to work out how they could best prevent this from happening to others. United by the depths of their loss, and the determination to create change, Gidget Foundation Australia began to take shape.

It is a common response to a loss like this, for loved ones to channel their grief and passion into driving change and ensuring a legacy for their loved one. It is not so common for an organisation started in this way to go on to such great things with such longevity, while keeping it’s heart in the right place.

Gidget’s circle of sisters and best friends devoted their time and efforts to fundraising, so that they could improve the perinatal mental health supports available in Sydney, knowing that there was not enough. It was their unwavering energy and commitment that saw the organisation take shape and steadily gain momentum.

This circle of women remains at the heart of Gidget Foundation Australia, they each carry Gidget with them in every decision they make, every event they organised in the early days and today, and every dollar raised. It has always been  donewith integrity, passion, professionalism and dignity. It has always been with their memories of Gidget, and their connection to her at the very heart of it all.

As an organisation grows, it naturally changes over time and when steered by the authenticity of this great tragedy, it is shaped by the very heart at its core.

If every single person involved in the direction of an organisation is motivated by at least a small set of the same values, then shaping the direction becomes quite an organic process. Over time, those whose values do not align will naturally fall away, and the heart centred direction will be restored, the ship will be steered back on track.

As Gidget Foundation Australia evolved, it was Gidget’s sisters and friends who helped shape the organisation in a way that would honour the life of someone who left this world too soon. It was that connection to the very human story behind a charity that is about to turn 20 years old.

The ship has been steered by a variety of capable leaders, although it took someone who truly embraced Gidget’s legacy along with an incredible array of career talent and experience, to bring about the huge growth of recent years. It is only through keeping Gidget close by having her family and friends at the heart of everything we do that the organisation has been able to achieve such authentic growth and success.

Success is measured by how many families like Gidget’s are able to access the specialist support they need to survive and thrive.

Article originally written for Suicide Prevention Australia.

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