Youth Worker Award recognises work to help lives

Lorraine Drew offers assistance to a young woman.        d447352
Lorraine Drew offers assistance to a young woman.        d447352

HAVING her hard work pay off is all in a day⿿s duties for RISE employee Lorraine Drew.

The Middle Swan worker has won the most outstanding Youth Worker Award handed down by the State Government and the Minister for Youth, Tony Simpson.

Ms Drew hails from Ireland and has been working at RISE in Perth for the past four years.

She began working on the youth outreach program in 2013 and has already made a significant impact for young women in the area escaping domestic violence.

The women aged between 14 and 18 are often escaping a brutal home life and are often pregnant or have a child.

“Some of the women have been in arranged marriages and come here without any social contacts at all.

“They are subjected to a home life where they hold no money, don’t have the language and are culturally isolated,” Ms Drew said.

One example was Katie, a young woman who had been in an arranged marriage since she was 14.

She came to Australia as a refugee. Her much older husband would beat her and she came to RISE seeking help at the age of 16, when four months pregnant with her first child and little English language.

Ms Drew was able to organise alternative accommodation for Katie and help her to deliver a healthy baby boy.

“Many of the young women who come here have no bank accounts, no life skills or financial support, no doctors and health services, no budgeting experience and social support.

“They have no experience of food shopping or cooking or cleaning and often present with trauma from domestic or family violence.”

Ms Drew said that RISE was able to help them get an independent lifestyle and then offer on-going outreach support.

“It is very rewarding and I am pleased to assist them to make a new healthy life outside of the one they have left,” she said.

RISE has the only house in Perth that takes women seeking refuge from difficult situations 24 hours a day.

Kira House has also won awards for its support and unique arrangements for assisting young women.

St John of God funds her position at the centre.

Ms Drew has made 321 referrals during her time at the centre and has assisted 70 young women to find a better and safer life.

RISE divisional manager Penny Webb said Ms Drew had made a significant contribution to the community in early intervention and support for women from a diverse range of cultures.

“The need is really great there are 1000 women seeking assistance each year,” she said.

Ms Drew is also part of the Headspace Advisory Group.