So­cial worker en­joys chal­lenge

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Peo­ple pas­sion: Te Ara Tuara loves work­ing with young peo­ple to make a dif­fer­ence in their lives.

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