Highly Commended

NIAMH O’CONNOR

OUSTANDING YOUTH WORKER

Niamh works for Relationships Australia Canberra & Region, as the coordinator and facilitator of Got Your Back – a group for young people (aged 12-25) impacted by domestic and family violence (DFV).

As well as planning and facilitating the group sessions, Niamh offers one-on-one support to the young people who attend, as well as to other young people impacted by DFV. This support includes safety planning; referrals; advocacy; applying for financial, safe housing or other aid; and liaising with schools, parents, youth workers, medical professionals, crisis services, legal services, CYPS, police and other stakeholders on behalf of the young people.

The work Niamh has put in to developing, implementing and running Got Your Back, as well as supporting all the young people she has engaged with through the program, is nothing short of amazing.

She developed Got Your Back from scratch, as there was nothing of its kind in Canberra for young people in this age bracket. The program is special because its creation and facilitation are shaped by the voices of young Canberrans, based on the ‘Now You’ve Heard Me, What Will You Do?’ report. She ensured that each of the insights highlighted in the report were represented in the design of the group, so that it provides the young people with the support that they want and need, in a safe and inclusive environment.

Since starting the first group in November 2021, Niamh has since established two more groups, with a fourth due to start in 2022. She runs each group weekly (co-facilitating with a different youth worker at each site), including throughout the recent lockdown period, when the groups went online and included daily text message check-ins with each young person.

I’ve had the privilege of learning from and working alongside Niamh for the past six months, as a social work placement student. She goes above and beyond for the young people she works with and has their safety and best interests first and foremost in any decision making or action taken. She has a deep understanding of the nuances of DFV, and the impacts that it can have on young people, and so provides support in an appropriate and powerful way. As the parent of young people impacted by DFV myself, it is encouraging and reassuring to see someone like Niamh working with our young people to support them through something so incredibly difficult.

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