Social worker enjoys challenge
Reconnecting young people with their families and getting their lives back on track is a big job.
But for Child, Youth and Family youth justice social worker Te Ara Tuara it’s not just a job, it’s a passion.
Mrs Tuara has been in the role for almost two years and enjoys the challenge of making a difference in people’s lives.
“When I see a young person use their own initiative to make things happen for them, it’s a big reward for me,” she says.
Based in Grey Lynn, she works with young people aged between 13 and 17 who have committed offences and been through family group conferences.
At the conference, a plan is drawn up for the offender to make amends to the victim and improve their behaviour.
Mrs Tuara works with the youth and their family to support them in carrying out the plan.
“It’s not about telling the family what they should do, it’s about getting on board with them and saying, ‘Is there help we can offer?’
“We’re here to empower and encourage them to lead the way,” she says.
Working with the young person’s whole family, including their siblings, is important, Mrs Tuara says.
“You can’t successfully make something happen for someone if they are not supported by their family.”
For parents, that means loving their children no matter how they are behaving and focusing on their positive points.
“It can be really hard to deal with as parents,” she says.
She encourages families to work together, rather than relying on social services to solve their problems.
Working with youth aid officers and other social agencies makes it possible for her to help families change their situations, she says.
“They do a really great job.
“We work together effectively and have great communication.”
Having five children of her own helps keep her up to date with teen language so she can communicate well with her young clients.
“If you’re talking to a young person and don’t know the trend of the language, you are going to be lost.”
Mrs Tuara is celebrating National Social Workers Day with her colleagues today.
CYF regional director Marion Heeney says social workers do remarkable work.
“There are not many jobs out there where you have the opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives every day you come to work.
“Child, Youth and Family social workers work in a complex and challenging environment, where the risks and expectations are phenomenally high,” she says.
Anyone with concerns about a child’s safety or wellbeing can contact CYF on 0508-326-459.
People passion: Te Ara Tuara loves working with young people to make a difference in their lives.