An open letter to Victorian youth workers

We asked Victorians: "Did a youth worker help you when you were young? If you could send your youth worker a message, what would you say?" 

We received many incredible stories from people whose lives have been changed because of their youth workers. 

We asked some current youth workers to share these anonymous reflections. On camera, for the very first time. 

Watch. Share. Join us. Because #youthworkmatters. 

Video transcript

*Clears throat*
Khan: So, just open and read.
Offscreen voice: that’s it, that’s it.
Khan: Lovely. 
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Venus: I met you at school.
Chelsea: I met you at a community health centre.
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Sam: I met you at a headspace centre. I was looking for help with my personal mental battles. 
Nuredin: I met you at the local community youth work unit with council services. 
Venus: I was looking for help with drugs and alcohol, and family abuse. 
Mose: The biggest problem I was facing at the time was homelessness and financial hardship.
Sam: Thank you for helping me get the support I needed. Thank you for helping me understand what I was going through. Thank you for saving my life. 
Bec: I was looking for help with drinking, mum getting angry and hitting me.
B: If it wasn’t for my youth worker I would have fallen more between the cracks of the system. 
Girma: If it wasn’t for my youth worker, I would not have my own independence.
Nuredin: You supported me to be a better person, really cared about me, pushed me to do better, made stuff better at home. It was the first time someone never gave up on me. 
Ben: Thank you for inspiring me to change my life. I went to rehab just before I turned 18. I am now a qualified youth worker. 
Lauren: You supported me to become whole again. To pick up the shattered pieces of myself and put them back together again. From the smallest compliments to helping me bandage my self-harm wounds. At that unit I learned what family was supposed to be. I finally had a home where I felt loved and supported. 
Khan: If it wasn’t for my youth worker, I would probably be in jail. 
Bec: If it wasn’t for my youth worker, I would have been in jury or on the street.
Venus: I was heard, and kept safe. Thank you for protecting me. 
Mose: This gave me the foundation not to give up and keep strong for a better life, continue to go to school, get a job, and qualification. 
B: I’m clean, I’m stable, I went back to school, and am about to *sigh* graduate my degree with a 3.9 GPA.
Martti: You supported me to build my confidence, believe in myself, make new friends. 
Khan: Thank you for helping me become the person I am today and for believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.
Ben: If it wasn’t for my youth worker I would have been dead or still addicted to ice. 
Nuredin: Thank you for your generosity, patience, and ability to connect with local community networks to help establish some support and routine. 
Chelsea: Still to this day, when I doubt myself I remember these words: “I can do it” as an affirmation, that she always said to me and has always remained with me, and helps me in my work – now, and everyday life.  
Girma: Thank you so much for never giving up on me. 
Lauren: From a client in residential care now to working with young people in residential care, completing my master’s in social work, building a house for my family and living a full, wonderful life. Youth work matters. 
Khan: Victoria needs trained, supported youth workers. 
Sam: Youth work matters. 
Nuredin: Youth work matters.
Venus: Youth work matters.
Ben: Youth work matters. 
Chelsea: Youth work matters.