Change makers: Maxine Gross

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Maxine Gross co-founded You Matter in 2020, a charitable organisation that supports survivors of family violence by providing them with a comfortable, safe, and stable haven - complete with necessary household items - to help women and their families restart their lives with hope for a brighter future.

26 July 2023

This year, Maxine was honoured with Boroondara’s ‘2023 Citizen of the Year Award’ for her incredible work with You Matter.

Please tell us about your personal journey towards the launch of You Matter:

Passionate about empowering women and girls, my 21 years living abroad exposed me to diverse cultures and inspired me to make a difference. Overseas, I engaged in community work, supporting disadvantaged populations. Upon returning to Australia, I recognised the importance of giving back to our local community and combined my marketing skills with my philanthropic efforts to create You Matter. I became aware of the dire circumstances faced by women and children affected by family violence and saw a critical need for a service like You Matter, which was non-existent in Victoria at the time.

What drives your mission on a daily basis?

Witnessing the profound effect that creating a haven has on these women – how it empowers them and instils hope – underscores the true essence of our service.

These women deserve dignified and respectful treatment, and they deserve the best opportunities to rebuild their lives.

Observing their tears of joy and relief, perceiving their happiness and the release of burdens they’ve carried, affirms the invaluable worth of the work we do.

Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?

I look to other women who have created positive change in their communities, such as Helen Szoke AO and Sandie de Wolf AM. These are women who have worked hard to build and/or lead organisations that deliver important impacts for those who are less fortunate and in need of their community’s support.

What does it mean to you to be a leader in the community?

Assuming a leadership role in the community involves embodying the actions I wish to inspire in others. It means engaging actively with the community, understanding its needs, and providing support in the most effective way possible.

What are your current goals in life?

To spend time with my family and be present when required, take time for myself, contribute to the community, and pursue happiness and contentment.

What is one thing that makes you most proud?

I am proud to have helped build a charitable organisation that has over 100 active, passionate, and caring volunteers.

What has been the most risk you have taken so far? What was the outcome?

Starting ‘You Matter’ involved huge risk as it made us accountable for our volunteers and the benefactors providing us with financial support to maintain our operations.

This responsibility inherently carries risks, but the outcomes have proven to greatly outweigh them.

To date, we have assisted over 135 women and 137 children, creating 135 havens of hope that aid their recovery.

What is one piece of advice would you give people wishing to start their own business?

Cultivate a good understanding of your sector and actively engage with your surrounding community. Also, be receptive to advice and support, which is often at hand and can be invaluable.

How does You Matter align with your values?

Much like ‘You Matter’, my personal belief system upholds that everyone deserves a voice. We should actively listen to others to better understand their needs and nurture a community that is grounded in compassion and care.

How can our readers contribute to or support ‘You Matter’?

Readers can make a significant difference by donating their time, household goods, or financial resources to help transform lives within our community. For more information, please visit our website at