Local youth worker is keen to help kids reach for the stars

Local youth worker with Barnardos,
Zanette Clements

Local youth worker Zanette Clements has a “reach for the stars” attitude to life and  encourages local young people to believe they can do amazing things.

Zanette works for Barnardos, a non-government organisation that supports vulnerable children and families.

She’s the Reconnect team leader for Cobar, Nyngan and Warren as well as being a Reconnect youth caseworker.

“The Reconnect program is an early intervention program for young people aged 12 to 18 (or up to 21 years in the case of newly arrived youth) who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Zanette said.

“We recognise that there are many factors that can contribute to young people being at risk, and we work with the young person to provide appropriate support and strategies to improve circumstances and outcomes for them and their families.

“This may include supporting youth in improving school attendance and engagement, improving family relationships and functioning, social skills and community connectedness, supporting parents/carers, building individual capacity, as well as providing help in accessing other relevant services to support youth with their mental health and emotional wellbeing,” she explained.

Zanette is a qualified youth worker and has worked with Barnardos for almost 15 years.

“It was my experience growing up with so many wonderful opportunities [she spent her childhood, youth and twenties as a circus performer with The Flying Fruit Fly Circus and Circus Oz] that led to me changing my path and becoming a youth worker.

“I wanted to encourage children and young people, especially in my home town of Cobar, to reach for the stars and to always believe that they can do amazing things, anything is possible and that yes, sometimes it is hard growing up and working out what you want for yourself, but if you have community and people that believe in you, you truly can achieve your goals, whatever they may be,” she said.

The Reconnect program can offer practical assistance to youth such as help with filling out applications for housing or Centrelink assistance, supporting a young person in obtaining their personal documents like birth certificates, tax file numbers, Medicare cards, or even helping with financial costs associated with education/training.

Even if a young person just wants to talk to someone, Zanette said she’s ready to listen.

“I am always available to talk to, however I am not a counsellor as such, so if a young person requires more specialist services in this area, I will support and refer on to suitable services. I would describe myself as an accidental counsellor and someone that young people can talk to without judgement and who will listen in order to help the young person in becoming pro-active in finding solutions to improve their circumstances,” she said.

Zanette said sometimes teens feel exhausted, confused, bored, anxious or depressed.

“It’s really important to get to what they are feeling in order to support someone. You first need to listen and give a voice to explain what’s really going on.

“We find out who they are, what their interests are and provide a safe space where they can express themselves, take a load off, regroup and get the support they need.

“Many cases of exhaustion relate to putting too much pressure on themselves, having trouble at school or home or with friends, their mental and emotional wellbeing, etc.

“A young person will eventually open up and more than likely, there is more to their story.

“Referrals to our service can come from other local service providers and agencies as well as from schools, community groups, family, and young people themselves are able to self-refer by reaching out to us and dropping in to our office in Barton Street,” she said.