I work for Avon Community Services in Narrogin and working with these kids has taught me that you can never learn too much. I originally grew up in the Byford, Armadale area and moved to Narrogin for the chance to change career paths.I have been in Narrogin for sixteen months and I love working in this community. They always involve me, especially when I first moved here. People from other organizations would check in with me once a week just to see if I needed any help with anything.
I used to be hairdresser by trade for twenty-six years and owned my own salon. I found that when you're cutting hair you do a lot of counseling for people in the process. I would often give Armadale High School children apprenticeship opportunities, and this may have been what lead me to my passion.
I work with children who have recently exited Banksia Juvenile Detention Centre and focus on their education. They are good kids and some of them have been in and out of Banksia their whole lives. It is hard to get them to break this cycle. Some of them see it as their safe place. A place where there is a hot meal and a warm bed. Often, they have family in there. I have formed very good relationships with the youth in Narrogin. In fact, when I started here, they were very kind to me and made me feel very welcome. If I don't come in to work for whatever reason, the kids' text me and genuinely worry for my wellbeing.
This job can sometimes be one step forward and two steps back but that one step forward is so very rewarding. All you can do is try to help and when they smile then that is a win. We have recently started an alternative education program with Narrogin Primary.
Our focus is to help some of these children who have had a long lapse in schooling prepare for high school. Education is so beneficial for them. Avon Community Services does evening programs and in quite soon we will be starting a scooter workshop at the local skatepark. Thursday nights we teach swimming at the swimming pool as drownings can be high in country towns.
The best moment in my life would have to be the birth of my four children. They are grown up now and I also have two wonderful grandchildren. My kids are all happy in their work. I have a daughter in Aged Care and another working for Western Power. My son is a Plummer and my youngest is a Beekeeper.
I have been around Australia a couple of times and the kids and I love camping. A couple of years back we did Cape York and all up I think we have done at least seven of the best 4WD tracks in Australia including The Gibb River Road.
Last year was hard for me as I lost my Nan whom I was very close to.
In the future I would like to study Mental Health as it is such a huge issue with youths in my line of work.
A lot of the children that I work with have never had positive role models in their lives and have actually been influenced to stay away from school. When I look back at my own childhood, I see school as the best times of my life. The socializing, the learning, making friends. I am always offering advice to the youth of today and that advice is go to school, find something that you love to do and stay there. Education and helping people are the two most important things there are.
Human - Amanda Richardson (Mandy)
Interviewer and photographer - Anna Cornish