Foundation House, Ringwood, Australia
BACKGROUND & AIMS:
In the emerging Chin community in South-East Melbourne there are a number of young people who are unemployed and homeless due to their alcohol use. Many have mental health struggles. As a community liaison worker (CLW), I act as a bridge between elders in the community, young people, and relevant mainstream services, building trust and strengthening capacity.
It takes time to engage and build trust with young people as they don’t want to be exposed in the community. I emphasise privacy and confidentiality, building trust through listening about their needs and wants, and offering practical support. I also link them to mental health or rehabilitation services if needed, and assist those engaged in court cases.
Understanding the cultural context of the young people, I am able to build the capacity of mainstream services to have better insight into the challenges faced by them. Educating community leaders about the challenges young people face is also important.
I encourage community leaders to continue to involve young people in community events.
The guilt and shame experienced by young people means they are isolated and find it hard to ask for help. Sometimes they don’t want to see someone from within their community. The role is broad and there are high community and organisational expectations. Maintaining boundaries can be a struggle, with expectations I can provide assistance at all hours!
IMPLICATIONS & CONCLUSIONS:
Having people from within community is needed to build trust and connections between young people who are struggling, the emerging community they are from, and to educate mainstream services. Finding the right service to help young people was important to support them restore hope, dignity and purpose through housing, finding employment, and connection. While the role
is really enjoyable, there are a lot of expectations to manage and bicultural workers need support in managing these.