A Message from our CEO, Nicki Mckenzie


It would be nice to think that when children walk through the schools’ gates for the first time that they are all on a level playing field, or learning field, but this is definitely not the case. There are children all over the world who face difficult challenges early in life, causing social and emotional issues. What many people may not realise is that there are many children here in our own Perth “backyard” who are facing these challenges each and every day.

When it comes to the lives of the children I am referring to, their experience of primary school is not like anyone else’s. Many of these children will not realise this is the case until adulthood.

Let’s paint that picture. Imagine that at the age of eight years old, your childhood includes sleeping on the couch because all the beds are taken, there’s a lock on the fridge and there’s nothing in the cupboard for you to just grab and eat. Your parents are no longer together, and you wonder what you’ve done wrong. You have also started to understand the effects of alcohol on people and are scared of those times.

When you are at school, you’re getting bullied, and you’re not doing well because you are tired, hungry and can’t concentrate. This is an immense amount of pressure for a small person to carry on their shoulders without the guidance of a positive role model or parent.

These are just some of the circumstances experienced by the children in the 12 Buckets program, some as young as six years old. It’s sad to think that this is the life that children in Perth consider to be “normal” and that they don’t know a different reality to this.

These circumstances and inequalities in home life then begin to show in the classroom. How can we expect impacted children to show up at school and engage at the same level as other children while they experience such hardship? We know that the experience of childhood adversities and trauma can result in disruptive behaviours, disengagement from learning, resistance to change, low confidence and lower life aspirations – both in the present and future.

But, there is a way this can change. Children can receive extra support from an adult invested in their wellbeing, a positive role model who cares and wants to spend time with them each week. This is what 12 Buckets provides to kids through our program. We help vulnerable children who have experienced trauma or disadvantage to better engage in their education. This is done through our one-to-one mentoring program where the focus is on the social and emotional wellbeing of school students, and it makes a demonstrable difference to the lives of children in our program.

It is life changing.

Being a self-funded charity is often challenging; but having witnessed children’s lives being transformed as they experience increased confidence and resilience – makes it all the more important.  Community is important to us, because at 12 Buckets we value community support – to put it frankly, without that support we wouldn’t be here. Increasing our ongoing financial support partnerships in Perth will lead to stronger social outcomes for our children.

We need help with our visibility, capability, and support so that the Perth community knows who we are and what we do. I would love if you could share our story and help us spread the word about 12 Buckets, learn our story and find out how you can help us help the kids who need it most.

Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to connecting with you in the future