Social workers reflect on challenging role

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 26/09/2013
Nicole Buchanan
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

IN SUPPORT: Child Youth and Family Invercargill care and protection social workers Nicole Buchanan, left, and Ricki-Lee Earwaker, both 22, marked National Social Workers’ Day yesterday with their colleagues.

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An Invercargill social worker says the best part of her job is watching young people overcome obstacles.

Child Youth and Family Invercargill care and protection social workers Ricki-Lee Earwaker and Nicole Buchanan, both 22, were celebrating National Social Workers' Day yesterday.

The pair, who work with youths aged up to 17, started their first permanent social-worker positions with Child Youth and Family Invercargill this year.

The role was diverse and challenging, but rewarding, they said.

The job satisfaction came from seeing young people who had vulnerable upbringings overcome obstacles and do well, Miss Buchanan said.

Every day was different, they said. Their roles ranged from attending appointments and meeting with youths, to arranging contact with them and their parents.

The toughest part was hearing about what some of them had been through and the complexity of their issues, Miss Buchanan said.

The pair celebrated National Social Workers' Day yesterday with a cooked breakfast and a morning tea. Child Youth and Family Invercargill site manager Rebecca Barson said National Social Workers' Day provided a chance to reflect on the purpose and achievement of social workers across the country.

"[It is] a day to celebrate the wonderful work that our social workers do in helping to turn young lives around for the better.

"Our people work with the most vulnerable children and young people in our society.

"They walk alongside them, their families and whanau, often going way beyond what any job description lays down as their role." Child Youth and Family figures show there are 17 care and protection social workers in Invercargill, along with five youth justice social workers, one adoptions social worker, one hospital liaison social worker, and three caregivers social workers.

In the southern rural area, which covers the Oamaru, Alexandra, Balclutha, and Gore areas, there are 15 care and protection social workers, four caregiver social workers, one adoption social worker and two youth justice social workers.

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