Koorie Student of the Year finalist 2016
Aug 22 2016
Nazaree Dickerson is committed to using her personal experience to help others in the indigenous community.
This commitment has seen her named as a finalist in the Victorian Koorie Student of the Year category of the 2016 Victorian Training Awards.
Nazaree’s educational background had originally focused on creativity and performance. However, she soon found that she needed to learn some more practical skills to bring her passions for creativity and helping indigenous communities together.
That’s when she began a Certificate IV in Community Services Work with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL), during which time she also worked as a youth worker.
‘Studying community services was definitely a different world to what I was used to, but I found it really rewarding,’ Nazaree said.
‘I’ve gained so many practical skills, but I was also able to apply my previous experiences. As someone that had once been receiving a similar service, I understood what the client goes through when they access services. It gave me an advantage and I was able to mentor and be a bit of a leader in my class.’
Nazaree currently works as a project officer for Footscray-based organisation cohealth. The role sees her engaging with all constituents in communities across the north and west metropolitan areas of Melbourne to strengthen their connections with their indigenous heritage and to help them to create positive change in their neighbourhoods.
‘I work in a project that’s about facilitating strength-based conversations with the community,’ Nazaree said.
‘We have activities that are all based around identifying the strength of individuals, groups and communities. The program gives the group the tools to plan for future activities or for changes they want to see in their communities.’
It was her background in the arts that inspired Nazaree to take a different approach to her work with community services. She noticed that the skills she’d learned in performance and improvisation were perfectly suited to her work in building confidence.
‘I have experience with cultural workshops— I started doing cultural education with my family when I was young. I wanted to bring more of that performance aspect into the workshops,’ Nazaree said.
‘So, in one of my previous roles, I ran theatre workshops, which included things like improvisation and character building. Through those kinds of activities, young people can build confidence and they get to explore some of themselves as well.’
More than just a day job, Nazaree sees her role as project officer as a chance to use her own personal experiences to benefit others.
‘For me personally, I’ve had three generations stolen in my family and I’ve seen the adverse effects it has on families and communities,’ Nazaree said.
‘I wanted to give back to communities and be a part of strengthening culture and community.’
For more information on the Victorian Training Awards, see: Victorian Training Awards.