Patricia Leilua (she/her) is a youth development officer from City of Greater Dandenong Youth and Family Services. Growing up in a family of youth workers, it was a natural pathway for her to become a youth worker, especially after volunteering and being guided by youth workers in community events as a teenager.

Youth work matters to Patricia, also known as Pattie, because youth work is the bridge between young people and the reality of life.

Sometimes we are the only adults or the only positive role models for a young person. For us to be in that space to nurture and to speak life into a young person - that is the purpose. That is why youth work really does matter.

–Patricia Leilua

Patricia has been that bridge for many groups of young people, having for the past decade supported newly arrived young people from refugee and migrant communities in Australia.

"As their primary case worker, I prepared resources for their schooling, and supported their families with settlement housing and found jobs to settle in."

Pattie’s support in their first few years in Australia and have given these groups of young people the foundation to become successful young adults who are now well into their careers or pursuing tertiary study.

In her role in local government at Dandenong, she engages young people in a variety of activities, to foster their social connection, as well as build their capacity, so that they can thrive and, and live the lives that they want to live with positivity and success.

That means running community events which bring different groups of young people and different multicultural communities together, holding advisory and support groups, and co-designing campaigns with young people.

Patricia is proud to be a youth worker, getting to see the growth and development of young people’s goals, as well as their confidence in achieving them.  She feels immense pleasure and pride being a part of that important journey.

Youth work is a smart investment into young people's lives, it is a service that has hands on impact with young people who are the future of our community.

–Patricia Leilua

As a youth worker, Pattie is supporting the next generation of young people from all walks of life to have the opportunities they need to succeed.

Patricia shared her story as part of YACVic's Youth Work Matters campaign. Find out more about the campaign here.

You can also read stories of how youth work supports young people here.