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HELPING HAND: TAFE NSW community services graduate and Kiama Municipal Council youth worker Rubi Curran (right) is helping support the community through her innovative Empower by Rubi program.
A TAFE NSW graduate delivering a youth empowerment program for Kiama teens has urged locals to prioritise their health and wellbeing in what has been a difficult year for local young people.
SENTRAL Youth Services youth worker Rubi Curran delivers the award-winning Empower with Rubi, an eight-week program for girls aged 15 and 16 at Kiama High School that offers life skills and strategies.
Ms Curran, who earned a Certificate IV in Mental Health and a Diploma of Counselling at TAFE NSW Wollongong, said the program played a critical role in helping local youth navigate the challenging emotional terrain of adolescence.
Communities across the South Coast have been deeply impacted by a number of youth suicides in recent months, an issue Kiama Municipal Council, through SENTRAL Youth Services, is aiming to support the community in addressing.
“It’s a very difficult time to be a young person,” Ms Curran said.
Rubi encourages young people to check in with their own mental health but also that of their friends. “Asking if someone is ok is really important but it’s also important to encourage someone to seek professional help should the answer to that question be ‘no’ or if you notice changes, even small changes, in people.” This is one of the skills that Rubi coaches young people in during the Empower with Rubi program.
The Empower with Rubi program is offered to selected Year 10 female students at Kiama High School and covers information on health and wellbeing, healthy relationships, sexual, drugs and alcohol and mental health.
“It’s about providing a safe space where participants feel supported, build confidence and ask questions they may not be able to ask at school,” Ms Curran said.
“To see how much these young women grow in that eight weeks is so rewarding and I try to be that older sister, that role model they may not have in their lives.”
Ms Curran’s former teacher and TAFE NSW Health, Wellbeing and Community Services Head of Skills Team, Anne Barrow, said as awareness grew about the importance of mental health, so too did job opportunities.
The Australian Government has forecast more than 50,000 job openings in the mental health field between 2018 and 2023, she said.
“Mental health is a growing area for job opportunities, especially in the current environment where there’s so much focus on it,” Ms Barrow said. “TAFE NSW provides the practical skills and experience for students to have a career in this richly rewarding area.”
Ms Barrow said TAFE NSW was offering a Diploma of Mental Health, a Certificate IV in Mental Health and a Diploma of Counselling for semester one, 2021.
To find out more about studying mental health at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.