The unheard voices:
Has anyone asked the girls
how they are feeling?

by Fiona Sanford, CEO The Flourish Journey
Thursday 9 May 2024

Last year, Australian governments agreed on a goal to reduce the number of women killed by their partners by 25% annually, starting in 2023. Tragically, new data shows an increase in deaths by nearly 30% in 2022/2023. Amidst these statistics, we must ask: How are teenage girls feeling? Are they okay?

As the national spotlight begins to shine on the ever-increasing record rates of violence against women, the conversation has rightfully focused on addressing male toxicity and promoting healthy masculinity. However, a critical voice is being overlooked: the voice of teenage girls. While initiatives aim to change male behaviours, the experiences, needs, and attitudes of young women — those who will inherit this abusive and dangerous culture — are being neglected, leaving a significant gap in our collective response.

“There's a lot of pressure and talk about men being responsible, which I fully support,” says Fiona Sanford, CEO of The Flourish Journey. “But we must also think about the girls — how they're feeling, and what we can do to ensure they can feel safe and empowered moving forward.”

The Flourish Journey, an ardent advocate for  teenage girls, emphasises the critical necessity to focus on the needs of teenage girls, not just the behaviours of men. Teenage girls are not just passive observers of the cultural shifts around masculinity and safety; some of them may unfortunately become victims in the future if this doesn't stop. They require to be seen and given space to be active participants. As a collective, they need to be heard and considered.

The exhaustion and fear among young women is palpable and profound. One teenage girl involved in The Flourish Journey expressed, "I'm exhausted, and I don't feel I have the ability to fight anymore."

Her exhaustion stems not only from personal experiences but also from how the media and various societal systems portray and handle violence against women - often inadequately and insensitively.

"...we must also think about the girls — how they're feeling, and what we can do to ensure they can feel safe and empowered moving forward." 

- Fiona Sanford,

A disturbing trend highlighted on social media further illustrates the distrust and fear women feel. A question posed on TikTok asking women whether they'd prefer to be alone in the woods with a man or a bear yielded telling responses: many chose the bear, noting that at least a bear's actions
would be for survival, not pleasure. This sentiment underscores a deep-seated fear and mistrust, fuelled by continued failures to adequately protect and understand women. To better protect and nurture the women of our future, surely we must start by listening to the girls.

Recent public discussions and rallies have underscored the urgency of this issue.  As the Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher, highlighted, addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach. Early education and support can pave the way for the next generation of inspirational women. It is essential that girls understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, feel empowered and comfortably share experiences with peers.

This is a group desperate for supportive interventions. “We’re hearing that they feel powerless,” shares a facilitator from The Flourish Journey. “Our mission is to provide them not only with a platform to be seen and heard but also with the educational tools to navigate their worlds confidently.” Our workshops on emotional wellbeing are tailored to assist them in navigating the complexities of adolescence with greater self-awareness and empowerment.

As we move forward, it is essential to continue creating and enhancing spaces where teenage girls can speak their truth, connect with like minds, and step into their potential without fear. The ongoing societal discourse on male responsibility is indeed crucial, but parallel efforts must focus on empowering young women, providing them with the tools and knowledge to take them through their worlds confidently.

The Flourish Journey remains committed to this cause, standing as a beacon of hope and action for young women across Australia. In collaboration with educators, parents, and policymakers, we strive to ensure that the voices of teenage girls are not only heard but are also integral in shaping a more inclusive and empathetic society.

To find out more information about The Flourish Journey please visits