25 Jan The sky’s the limit
Walking from Dubbo airport to where Adam spends much of his time in the air, the young caseworker with the Uniting Doorways program talks about his work.
We arrive at a gate and on the other side is the fantastic yellow plane he flies. Adam has a pilot’s licence as well as his Flying Instructor rating. He has a number of students under his instruction, and dreams of starting his own flying school in the Dubbo area. He has been flying for 15 years – since he was 15 years old.
Adam is an exceptional practitioner and young Aboriginal leader in the Orana Far West community. He is also part of Jaanimili, the Aboriginal Services and Development unit in Uniting. The unit was born out of the 2007 ‘Dreaming as One’ internal review of Aboriginal staff recruitment, retention and service delivery, which highlighted the importance of Aboriginal leadership and participation in all layers of the organisation.
“I’ve also worked in a Uniting family restoration program,” he says. Family restoration helps children at risk of entering the foster care system to stay with their parents through early intervention and counselling. Adam has helped within the tight network that is the Aboriginal community.
He sometimes sees families he has worked with previously and they seem grateful. “But it’s not about me. It’s about doing something good for the community.”
Now Adam helps people by finding short term accommodation for homeless youth and those at risk of becoming homeless.
“There’s not a lot of accommodation in Dubbo. Lots of people are homeless and so many are couch surfing. The government departments can’t keep up with the need for housing.”
Adam’s dedication to the community is evident. On weekends he works full time with Wings Out West as a flying instructor and mentor.
“I really want to start my own flying school for Aboriginal students. It’s something positive for young people,” he says. “The commitment to youth work and flying goes hand in hand – they’re both about mentoring young people, and trying to inspire them and show them that everything is possible.”
“I wanted to get into the air force as a young fella, but then ended up having kids. So I didn’t pursue that path, but I fly as often as I can. I’m in the process of working towards my commercial flying license.”
Adam has two children, and hopes to one day pass on the love of flying to them as well.
Adam’s instructor and mentor, is Dan Compton, founder of Wings out West, who has 30 years flying experience. “Dan was in the air force for 12 years and then was a flying doctor. He motivates me and has helped me along the way and I want to do that for others. Even at work, the managers have been very supportive of me, especially with the flying hours. They’re flexible – and they call me the Uniting pilot!”
Adam’s passion and dedication are so strong, not to mention his emphasis on unity, especially the importance of the community and family connections. It’s not surprising he was nominated for Youth Worker of the Year in the 2015 NSW Youth Work Awards.
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