Community champion: Small service, big impact
What do you?
I AM a counsellor/project officer for Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors. I have worked for STARTTS in Coffs Harbour for almost seven years. STARTTS provides counselling and support to people from refugee and refugee-like backgrounds living in NSW who have experienced torture or traumatic events before coming to Australia. We have several offices in Sydney and small regional offices in Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle and Wollongong. In my role, I provide direct counselling to clients and help to provide support and training to organisations working with STARTTS clients. STARTTS also runs community development activities such as community consultations and a variety of programs to assist people to settle into Australian life. In Coffs Harbour we have run activities such as youth camps, swimming programs and other group activities. In the Coffs office we are a small team of three but we try hard to work together to provide as much assistance to people as we can.
The role is all about providing client-focused, culturally appropriate, holistic services. The goal of STARTTS services is to help people feel safe, be able to mourn and process their grief and trauma and to reconnect with ordinary life.
What' s the favourite part of your job?
Working with people from so many different cultures is a privilege and a learning experience for me and the clients. It's also wonderful to see how so many people become more relaxed and comfortable over time and begin to enjoy ordinary life. A lot of people I work with have endured enormous suffering but I am always impressed by how resilient so many people are in spite of years of suffering and deprivation.
I have also learnt that there are more things that unite rather than separate people from different parts of the world. It's also great to be part of a small local team with shared values and passion for our work.
How do you hope your organisation will grow in coming years?
I hope that STARTTS continues to operate in Coffs Harbour for years to come and that we are able to attract more resources. There is never enough time or resources to do all the things that we believe would enhance our services.
The service began here with two people sharing one position.
We now have one full-time position and two part-time positions. Let's hope that we continue to grow and be able to better meet people's needs.