If I didn't meet that youth worker, I don't think I'd be where I am today.–Caitlyn Mestisi
Caitlyn Mestisi is a young youth worker who works for a local council in Melbourne’s west. Youth work matters to Caitlyn, because she was supported by a youth worker through a tough period in her life at 17.
“I didn't really know what a youth worker did, but actually helped me through a really hard time in my life. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with my teachers, parents or friends what was happening, but the youth worker helped me feel seen and heard,” says Caitlyn.
“The youth worker referred me to support services, gave me the strength to talk about what I was going through, and made me feel okay to seek help.”
This inspired Caitlyn to become a youth worker herself, and now she wants to let as many young people and communities know about youth work and the youth services available.
“We impact [young people] because we support all young people in the community no matter gender, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, sex, disabilities. We run all-inclusive events and programs.”
As a young person who is also a youth worker, she also understands the importance of services that are accessible to young people, both financially and from a lifestyle perspective.
As a 17 year old, I did not have much money, so it was really cool to see what support I could get. Now I do the same with the young people I work with.–Caitlyn Mestisi
Working in the L2P program, which connects young people with a mentor to learn about road safety and have access to other support services, she was able to support a young parent not just with driving, but with housing and employment too.
“They started off with our services to learn how to drive, but they needed assistance because they were struggling with housing at home.”
She was able to assist them in pairing them with a mentor who was understanding of the young person’s circumstances, and refer them to access a housing service. Soon after they began their lessons, Caitlyn learned they were a young parent as well, so she installed a baby car seat, so the young parent didn’t have to arrange for alternative support during driving lessons.
The young parent was able to complete their hours, and gain their license. This allowed them to find work, as well in general day-to-day tasks such as getting groceries, or sending their child to kinder or school.
Caitlyn loves how youth work is on the ground and connected to young people, and she does whatever she can so that young people have the resources to access the service and participate in programs fully.
As a youth worker, she wants to instil strength in the same way that the youth worker gave her strength when she was younger.
"I want as many young people to know that there is someone they can speak to, there are services available, there is a safe space for you.”
Caitlyn shared her story as part of YACVic's Youth Work Matters campaign. Find out more about the campaign here.