Congratulations to Maari Ma, winner of a NSW Youth Work Award
Tuesday 31 October 2017
We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Maari Ma Youth Health Service on their recognition as Outstanding Service or Project Working with Aboriginal Young People at the fifth annual NSW Youth Work Awards.
AbSec was a proud sponsor of the awards held by Youth Action, which attracted a large audience of 300 guests celebrating the commitment of youth workers and volunteers.
“It’s a huge priority for us to provide support and recognition to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, so it’s great to see this award go to Maari Ma,” said Tim Ireland, AbSec CEO.
“There are dozens of Aboriginal organisations around New South Wales making a real difference for their communities, and the more attention we can bring to them, the better.”
Maari Ma is an Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation supporting both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in seven communities across far-west NSW. The organisation has long been providing primary healthcare services to babies and adults in the community, but the Youth Health Service was only started recently when Maari Ma workers identified a gap in services for young people.
“I think the key strength of the program is that we’re identifying a cohort of our community that have never been targeted within the health system,” said Justin Files, Manager of Community Services and Programs at Maari Ma.
The Youth Health Service supports children and young people ages eight to 16, focusing on preventative health checks to prevent chronic conditions from forming. One of the program’s many strengths is the innovative approach used by Maari Ma’s small team, who pay close attention to the community’s needs.
“This cohort of young people don’t really like having a face-to-face discussion, to talk directly with you about some of the issues, so we introduced a new system called TickiT,” Justin said.
“It’s a program that we adapted to our community, that allowed the young people to use a tablet and identify areas of their health and wellbeing that they would like to focus on in their consult. Once they did that in the waiting room, then they’d go into the youth health nurse and Aboriginal health worker and discuss the response that they gave on the tablet.
“Then the youth health worker would take the young person in to see the GP and advocate on their behalf.” Through this unique approach, Aboriginal children and teens in far west NSW are able to seek support for health issues that they may be uncomfortable talking about – and they have a dedicated health worker to help them articulate their needs.
The staff at Maari Ma are also careful to involve parents and families in healthcare discussions, making sure that no one is left behind and that decisions are made cooperatively rather than being imposed on families. It’s a collaborative approach that’s so important in Aboriginal communities where authorities have failed to consult families in the past.
As for winning the award, Justin said it’s great to receive recognition of the team’s hard work. “That was an amazing accolade.
“Our Aboriginal health worker has been involved in the program from the get-go, and we’ve been really fortunate that she has this amazing engagement with community. Really, this is an opportunity to highlight the great work she’s been doing.” Congratulations to all the hard-working staff at Maari Ma!