Bella & Tuifiti: Meet our youth workers, they change lives

Bella & Tuifiti: Meet our youth workers, they change lives

Hi, I’m Bella and I’m a Youth Worker at
Safe Places for Children. Hey, my name is Tuifiti Faaleva, I’m a Youth
Worker for Safe Places for Children. So, why did you get into youth work? I did a Bachelor of Psychological Science
and then a Master of Counselling and throughout that I knew that I wanted to work with young
people, um, I also have family who are foster carers, so I’ve always kind of been immersed
in um the child safety system and what happens behind the scenes with that. Just growing up I was the funkle, the fun
uncle, and everyone always told me to go deal with the nieces, the nephews and then I noticed
that you know I started expanding my circles so I started talking more to the kids around
my neighbourhood, started talking to the kids around um my churches and started talking
to more other kids and then they started saying you know what you should become a youth worker. What does your typical day look like? For me, it’s coming on shift, finding out
what’s happened overnight from the other youth worker and then just figuring out what
the plan for the day is and supporting the young people with whatever they need that
day, um, sometimes it’s just cleaning and just being in the house, like and running
the house like a normal house, um and other days it’s really fun stuff like going out
for activities. For me, it’s just being myself, when I go
on shift if they’re not up for fun I’ll make sure they’re up for fun, even if they
had like a bad CI from the night before, I’ll make sure we’re getting out of the house,
we’re getting our hair freshed up, we’re getting the sun in our face, just as long
as we’re going out and making them happy. This is the one I was dreading, haha, what
is the hardest part of your job? Um, I think the hardest part of my job for
me is being away from my own family at times, um, and sometimes having that lack of sleep
that we can have on shift due to supporting our young people. Everything that is hard about my job, there’s
something else that makes it really, really positive and makes you want to go back the
next day. For me, it’s like hitting the gym, you know,
you put in the first two reps yeah easy, but then you get into that position where you’re
putting in the three and four sets and you’re like ah ok I give up, I wanna just, yep I
wanna go home right now and that’s just the start of the shift and then you have to
keep pushing through, but yeah with this like, just like what you said being away from your
own family, I’m not going to lie there are at times where I’ve cried to my wife, but
it comes with the job and with the reward, I like it. What’s your special trick for connecting
with a young person when they’re upset? I think it really depends on the young person
that I’m working with, like they’re all really individual, um, but definitely like
a lot of playfulness, singing in the car, joking around, um, you know, playing board
games things like that, just hanging out with young people and building awesome memories
with them. With mine, it’s, the first thing I ask is
“Am I ok?”, just to make sure if they’re ok. Can you remember one moment you really knew
you’d made a difference? One of the girls that I was looking after
she was known for missing, so the first five shifts, missing, missing, missing, but then
I started to realise her background story was that she had a really bad history with
men. Once I started breaking down that ice and
then now she stays home, like she legits don’t wanna go hangout out, when she does hangout
she stays in contact. So, mine actually happened on my most recent
shift and I had a young person who has previously struggled to connect with workers, um, come
up to me and have a chat to me about some pretty personal stuff that’s going on in
their life, and then at the end of that conversation said to me “Hey Bella, you’re the best
person to come to, to talk about this stuff” and it just, like my heart just swelled, it
was amazing. Why do you love working at Safe Places for
Children? Um, for me I love working with kids, like
that’s what I’m passionate about, that’s what I always wanted to do and this allows
me to do that on such a massive scale to be in a child’s life, um, you know, for a significant
period of time and you’re there for those 24 hours, you really are seeing every part
of their day and then on top of that I get supported by all the other workers, all my
senior workers, my case managers, just the entire Safe Places community. For this you actually see growth, you actually
get appreciated saying “Thank you, you’re the best”, “Thank you, you did well”,
it’s beautiful, you are the best worker. Great walking home feeling that, oh my gosh,
very rewarding. And then that reflects back on the kids coz
the kids feel that energy. When they see you coming on shift, like yeah
my guy. Yeah I’m that guy.


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