My first month on the job: the great things about working with young people

Megan Goodsell on her first day of work with Uniting.

My first month on the job: the great things about working with young people

This is an edited version of an article by Megan Goodsell (pictured above), which first appeared on her own blog, My Own Clarity, in August 2016.

My name is Megan Goodsell and I recently started a new job. I’m a Youth Worker with Uniting Burnside Youth on Track Mid North Coast. Our program helps young people whose lives may have gone off track, to create brighter futures for themselves. These young people are often referred to us through the police system, as they may have engaged in criminal behaviour. We work with them to look at these behaviours and set and achieve goals for themselves. These goals could include anything from getting a learner drivers licence to securing a part time job, with the ultimate goal of steering them away from a life of crime.

People who work in community services know the risk of burn out and stress relating to the job. We work with vulnerable people who have often had trauma in their lives. It can be challenging, emotional and tiring.

Good news stories are important. We are often asked to tell them (without names/details) as they are an opportunity for us to share the wins, encourage each other and remind us why we do what we do (well, they are my reasons for sharing).

I could write a blog post about all the good things that have happened in my first month of work with Uniting. So I have, in the form of a list!

The good things…

  • I’ve started to work with young people again, after a bit of a break. I’m being reminded of the many reasons I love working with them. We get to see the ‘good side’ to young people that others may view as ‘trouble’, and get to know them individually without judgement. Our role is to listen and seek to understand where they are coming from. It’s about being a role model and someone who can talk to young people about difficult issues. I love that we get to tap into their potential and see their dreams and passions. It is very rewarding to see young people achieve their goals, after working with them for between three and nine months.
  • We usually have one-on-one sessions with the young people we work with. The program gives us approximately four weeks from when we meet a young person to when we have to prepare a case plan. This gives time for workers and young people to get to know one another before talking to them about any problems they may have- what a great practice! There is real flexibility in how I can work.
  • We have the opportunity to work with young people at school or out in the community, and take them to different places. The other day when I was with a client in the car, I let him choose the music we listened to. He played songs he loves, and I was surprised I knew a lot of them. I asked him about why he liked the songs and he explained them to me. He sat in the car singing and chatting to me, which made me happy. Music is a great source of conversation, inspiration and joy.
  • I love that I am able to use the beautiful natural environment in my work. For example, I ate lunch with my client at a beautiful local beach. I point out to young people the freedom we have to do such things, that people in jail do not have.
  • In our office we do not have team meetings, we have team experiences. At the last one, we had a specialist speaker from the Department of Family Services share some of her excellent work practices with us. I’ve used one already! These experiences offer the chance to discuss our ideas and build a rapport with each other.
  • People take turns in bringing morning tea and presenting at the team experiences. I’ve offered to lead the next team experience. I’m going to talk about working in a ‘green’ office. Our office is already a paperless office, meaning we have online databases, so don’t have to print things out. I find this inspiring.
  • I am privileged to work with some awesome Aboriginal people. Five out of our 14 staff are Aboriginal; Uniting totally respects and values our first people, as we should.
  • It was an easy transition into a new workplace. Everyone is very inclusive, respectful and supportive. I have felt valued from the beginning.
  • There is another Uniting office in my street which I can work from, that’s within walking distance. My job offers that flexibility.
  • It’s very family oriented; the staff are understanding and supportive of the challenges with family.
  • It is common practice when you make a cuppa to ask if anyone else wants one too and it’s okay to sit down and drink it together.
  • On my second day, part of my team and my direct supervisor, who are based in Kempsey, came to meet me and we were all taken out for lunch.
  • I went to a two day TAFE workshop on Trauma Informed Care, which was excellent. We have the opportunity to complete the assessments and gain the certificate for that module.
  • NAIDOC Week was in my first week and I went to an event where we got to do beading with young people. We had a tasty lunch of fresh fish, salads and kangaroo.
  • And there are often little chocolates in the lolly jar. Someone keeps filling it up!

There are so many more good news stories I could share. What more could you ask for when you have started a new job?

By Megan Goodsell

Youth Worker, Uniting Burnside Youth on Track Mid North Coast


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