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Tarissa’s hard work recognised

Friday, 9th November, 2018

Maari Ma’s Tarissa Staker is the winner of the NSW Youth Worker of the Year. PICTURE: Myles Burt Maari Ma’s Tarissa Staker is the winner of the NSW Youth Worker of the Year. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Maari Ma’s Tarissa Staker has come home from Sydney as 2018 NSW Youth Worker of the Year. 

Working in the Maari Ma’s Youth Health Service for three years, Ms Staker was secretly nominated by Executive manager Cathy Dyer, and Clontarf Academy director Peter Ballard for the award. 

Ms Staker travelled to the Gala Awards Night in Woolloomooloo where she was surprised to hear her name called.

“I was gobsmacked,” Ms Staker said. “I didn’t know that she’d nominated me.

“She’d done a huge write-up which I had no idea about until afterwards.” 

Ms Staker has been working with Maari Ma for nine years in various positions and was tasked in 2015 to be a part of its Youth Health Service. 

This was created after Maari Ma saw a gap in health services for nine to 18-year -olds focusing on prevention and education.

“People only came in when they were sick, when it’s the last step,” Ms Staker said.

“We try to encourage the kids to try and get a health check done every 12 months so we pick up on the stuff beforehand.

“It also gets the kids to take on the responsibility to make sure they get it done again next year, so they’re not leaving it up to the parents or when they’re unwell again.”

For the Youth Health Service, Ms Staker has organised projects such as Short, Black Opera with Deborah Cheetham, a workshop with Christine Anu, provided monthly health checks for the Clontarf Academy and conducted health education sessions at the high schools. 

Having lived in Wilcannia, Menindee and Broken Hill, she said she always tried to ensure everybody was being looked after.

“Being a health service there’s only so much you can do. I used to get really frustrated and always wanted to go beyond,” Ms Staker said.

“Being in Maari Ma for so long and doing the different roles that I’ve done, that’s given me the expertise and the knowledge to pass that on to the others.

“So I’ve always gone beyond what I’m supposed to do.

“I’m a people person, I love interacting and mixing and if I can help someone I will, no matter what walks of life.

“I’m here for my people, to help my people.”

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