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Introducing our new Schools Engagement Officer

Andi Dackins is Young Carers WA’s newest team member and came on board on Tuesday 18th April, just after the Easter long weekend, to fill the reclaimed position of Schools Engagement Officer. The Young Carers WA School program officially wrapped up in April 2013 but has recently opened up again as one of Carers WA’s exciting new programs!

Considering that Andi is now my desk neighbour, I took the opportunity to chat with her about her experience and passions, while she waited for her computer to be set up.

An English Native, Andi’s first foray into working with youth was when she volunteered at a local youth program 3 nights a week in Wales, initially in an arts program, located on the bottom floor of a local school. There wasn’t much funding for youth programs and all volunteers had to bring their own paper and paints. The kids were a “pain in the neck”, Andi joked with a smile – but she liked it! Andi also introduced a Girls Group, where they talked about all kinds of subjects, including sex education.

Through her volunteering, Andi was given professional training, which then led to a job as an Education Welfare Officer – or in her own words - “a truancy officer”. Whilst this might make Andi sound strict and serious, it’s not the case at all. In fact, she said “I cried when I left, not because I was saying goodbye to my family but because I was leaving my job.”

Andi discovered that a lot of the truancy was due to the alleged bullying that the kids were experiencing at school and is passionate about addressing bullying and cyber safety. She created a program called Shift ATTITUDES, which was nominated for the Australian Premier Award in 2013, reaching the finalist category.

Living in Australia for the past 10 years, Andi has worked for the City of Belmont and as an Outreach youth worker with the City of Wanneroo Youth Team. We can’t wait to see what Andi will bring to Young Carers WA!

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