About: Pathways Foundation

The Pathways Foundation was created in 2002 to assist young people make a safe and supported transition into adulthood. The Pathways Foundation has led the resurgence of contemporary Rites of Passage Programs throughout Australia.

Rites of Passage Programs are for boys and girls aged between 7-16.  They are carefully designed to bolster self esteem, nurture family relationships and improve life outcomes. This vital time of transition can see boys and girls struggle as they seek to discover who they are in a world that can present them with many external and internal pressures.

They question and seek answers to their sense of belonging, peer relationships, family relationships, changing bodies, identity issues and world events. Their world through smart technology brings so much information and expectation to how each of them should look and behave and in many instances can be further away from who they are in their quest to ‘fit in’ and discover who they are. 


‘Pathways into Womanhood’ and ‘Pathways to Manhood’ Programs have been achieving incredible outcomes for young people and their families for thirty years.  The Pathways Foundation quality assured, cutting edge Programs has seen thousands of young people and their families experience an empowered transition into adulthood and develop connected resilience through self-awareness and leadership.

Research shows that the major impact on a child’s self esteem is the relationship they have with their parents, family, peers and community.   The Pathways Foundation has planted the seeds for the reclamation of our Children’s future.  

As a values based organisation our framework is that of Respect, Responsibility and Awareness for self, others and the environment.  Pathways Programs assist with the prevention of risk taking behaviours, self harm, anxiety, substance abuse, under achievement, bullying, body image and disconnection with themselves, families, peers and their community by building stronger and more supportive relationships through a shared positive process.

Our Programs increase self confidence by giving opportunities to take up challenges and succeeding then celebrating the joy of that.

The teenage Rites of Passage Program are five days in bush locations. It is a camping experience for the boys who attend with their father or close mentor. The girls attend with their mother or close mentor in a bush retreat with accommodation. In both settings a strong diverse community of men or women is woven to support the girls or boys in this most important transition.

The YoungSTARS Program is a special weekend adventure bush camp for boys aged 7-12 and their father or significant male adult in their life.

The Programs provide a safe environment to strengthen and support building healthy relationships with themselves their peers their families and their community. They are able to understand more deeply about what it means to be a healthy young man or woman and understand their own gifts and unique talents they offer the world.  Growing their emotional intelligence is a vital to this transition.

In traditional societies where the village did help bring up the children they invested more time and energy into the Rite of Passage marking the transition from child to young adult than any of the other events that made up the rich fabric of village life. The village knew that their very survival and harmony depended upon having healthy men and women as community members. 

This is an event to help leave the child behind and to celebrate the first steps of the young adult and is Every Child’s Rite. Michael Meade wrote, “If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.”

We know this work makes a difference. Independent market research has confirmed the following significant benefits: increased confidence, stronger more respectful and supportive family relationships, increased respect for women as well as motivation to set goals, finish school and to participate and give back to their community.   

Our Patrons


His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), and Her Excellency, Mrs Linda Hurley, are pleased to be joint patrons of the Pathways Foundation.


Paul Henley – Chair

Trained in England in community development and has worked for 35 years in Australia in the field of youth and family, specialising in men’s and boy’s issues. Other areas of expertise are team development and training.

He has developed and facilitated and led many men’s Programs and groups relating to health & wellbeing. The former secretary of NSW Men’s Health & Wellbeing and is a member of the Australian Men’s Health Forum Inc and is on the organising committee for Man Alive, South coast.

Paul’s commitment for the wellbeing of our young people and families has seen him work in the education system developing strategies for bullying and difficult behaviours.

He is a co-founder of the Pathways Foundation and the Pathways to Manhood Program and has been designing and leading Programs with the Foundation for over 25 years. Paul is a dedicated mentor to many and this ensures his wealth of knowledge and experience is passed on.

If you asked him what his legacy is, it would be the advancement of the mature male.

Leonie Deuis – Board Member

Leonie brings more than thirty five years professional experience and expertise in Program design and delivery for youth, youth at risk, parenting skills, mentoring, community development, alternative dispute resolution, child protection, risk management, leadership training and development in the NFP and NGO sectors.

She is passionate about Rites of Passage and the opportunity it gives young people to make a healthy transition into adulthood and be responsible and inclusive members of the broader community.   She is cofounder and Senior Facilitator and Trainer for the ‘Pathways into Womanhood’ rites of passage Program, Senior Facilitator and trainer for the mothers Program for ‘Pathways to Manhood’ rites of passage Program and the Pathways Women’s Leadership Development Training Program.

Leonie believes by providing young people with the tools, opportunities to reflect and grow their emotional intelligence, feel part of a healthy community where they can contribute into is central to growing inclusive and supportive culture with the values of Respect Responsibility and Awareness for self, others and the land we walk on. 

Martina Sandles – Board Member  

Martina has run her own business for 10years and brings this experience along with nine years of leadership with the Pathways to Manhood and Pathways into Womanhood Programs.

Martina has been a strong and passionate supporter of Pathways and has also supported fundraising efforts with Pathways and for other organsations. She is passionate about the work Pathways does with young people and their families and wants to give back. Martina brings with her an ability for attention to details, her business experience as well as long standing knowledge of the Programs Pathways runs and has been a constant support and volunteer for Pathways for 10years.

Mark O’Donnell – Board Member  

Mark has worked with passion as an educator with younger children in schools and young men and women finalizing their tertiary education, in urban, rural and remote communities of this wide country. It became obvious to him that many of the boys were failing to engage with their learning and indeed the challenges of life.

Mark’s life experience and study has left him with the conviction that young people, particularly boys, seek the transformation of a rite of passage whether planned or not. Ancient peoples did not leave this to chance and nor should we.

Furthermore the narrative our young men receive about their role has become unhelpful. They need direction and good men as role models. Supporting Pathways Foundation provides an opportunity to further contribute to the health and well being of young people.

He has also worked and conducted research as a geologist and environmental scientist but is now currently getting his hands dirty as a farmer on the southern highlands of NSW.

Maree Lipschitz – Board Member 

Maree is a speaker and facilitator/teacher specialising in feminine rites of passage. She is passionate about helping women and girls navigate with grace and ease through the three major life transitions of women – menarche (puberty), motherhood and menopause. 

An Industrial Chemist and Computer Scientist in her early working life, she spent 10 years working in corporate organisations in tertiary education, manufacturing, and the legal sector. 

The motherhood rite of passage in 1995 changed her life and she now facilitates her own workshops such as ‘Let’s Talk Growing Up’ puberty weekends for 9-12 year old girls and their Mums; and ‘The Feminine Pathway through Midlife’ for women 35+.  Maree was a facilitator of the mothers part of Pathways to Manhood  programs for 13-15 year old boys for several years and then became a co-founder of ‘Pathways into Womanhood’  residential programs for 13-15 year old girls.  Maree is also a Senior Facilitator and Coach of ‘Working Parents Programmes’ for corporate working mums and dads for the How Do You Do It organisation for the last 18 years.







To Manhood

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Returning Young People

Leadership Training

Community Talks

Reading material relating to girls and women

Reading material relating to boys and men and other general reading