Annual community-driven event creates positive impact for disadvantaged youth

Students from Doxa School Bendigo gathered at Hargreaves Mall on Friday, 27 October for the region’s second annual Ball in the Mall, aimed at making a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged youth by providing them with an experience they wouldn’t normally have.

Located in the heart of Bendigo’s central business district, Hargreaves Mall was transformed into a magical outdoor ballroom comprising a stage, live music, an MC, a dance floor, tables with impressive centre pieces and delicious catering for all guests. Doxa School Bendigo, a flexible learning educational facility, provides a variety of programs for students aged between 12 and 18 who face challenges with mainstream schooling. Principal, John Russell, said Ball in the Mall is all thanks to the local community who are fully committed to driving and supporting this annual initiative.

“Thanks to the local community, the inaugural Ball in the Mall held last year was such a success and this year was no different,” Mr Russell said. “Many students from Doxa School Bendigo would have limited opportunities to attend events where they can work on their social skills and feel part of a community. We work
closely with local individuals and businesses to create events such as Ball in the Mall to boost our students’ confidence both in school and in life,” Mr Russell said.

This year, there were eight debutante couples involved from aged 14 to 21. Each couple was primped and preened at the Bendigo TAFE’s Lotus Hair & Beauty salon, dressed care of Grant Rule Menswear with all debutante dresses donated, then professionally photographed and transported to the event in classic cars from Custom Addiction Classic Car club.

Ball In the Mall debutantes were presented to the honourable Mayor, Margaret O’Rourke, and received certificates commemorating the occasion along with a copy of their portrait and DVD.

One of the key drivers behind this initiative is Haylee Kennedy from headspace. “It’s hugely important to spend time with young people to rebuild connections and engagement that has been lost. Often it takes several attempts and a consistent approach to engage with the youth. Our group has been offering support in a variety of ways depending on the needs of the young person,” Ms Kennedy said. “By coming together as a community, we can make a positive difference to the lives of these youth through offering them an experience they wouldn’t have had otherwise. And in doing so, we’re creating an exciting event in the heart of our CBD.”

Ball in the Mall is an annual community-driven initiative thanks to the support of a handful of individuals, along with Doxa School Bendigo, The City of Greater Bendigo, DHHS, Anglicare, MarShere Dance Studio, Bendigo TAFE, YO Bendigo, Victoria Police, Golden City Support Services, BDAC and an impressive list of local businesses.


Media contact: Jackie Smiles | | 03 9092 8449