Jake is now training to be a youth worker and wants to share his life skills and experience with young people in similar circumstances. He wants to make a difference.
“I just think it would have had such an impact on me, when I was in care, if support workers around me had experienced the same as me and could personally understand what I was going through — that’s why I’ve decided to study a Certificate IV in Youth Work,” Jake said.
“Don’t get me wrong; I am so grateful for the consistent and above and beyond care I received over the years from youth workers, Darren and Dan.
“We had our ups and downs, but the communication was always honest, with no BS.
“They spoke to me as a human being, always with respect, and always wanting to help. You could always feel if staff weren’t in it for the right reasons and Darren and Dan were.
“Something I will always remember from that time is: ‘if a young person is old enough to be told about something, they are old enough to be a part of the decision-making process.’
“I’ve never forgotten that and I feel very lucky to have worked with the care workers that I have.
“I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and moving forward, I want to share that with young people in out-of-home care.”
Jake remembers fun trips away to Tangalooma, camping trips and a drive up to Noosa to find his own way around.
Jake met youth worker Darren when he was 12-years-old and built a sort of love / hate brotherly relationship with him.
“When I was about 16, we decided — that is the Supported Independent Living Service (SILS) Team Leader, Carmen, my youth workers and I — it was time to try supported independent living.
“We started with one night a week to get a feel for it over the course of a few weeks. I was struggling with that one-on-one attention that I felt I was missing in care, so we decided to expediate the process.
“Though the motivation to cook and clean for myself initially was very challenging!
“Once every two weeks, we’d go to Woolworths with a set budget and get food to cook for dinner that night, so I was doing modules for the SILS training program without knowing it.
“Getting used to doing things by myself.
“I now live by myself and love it. I am training to be a youth worker, which takes most of my focus and I’ll definitely be hitting up Darren and Churches of Christ for work placement when it comes time.
“I’ve also volunteered for many years with CREATE Foundation, the care sector’s peak body, and I’m a big believer in encouraging young people to have a voice.
“Young people need to voice their views and opinions. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with government ministers and department Director-Generals and be on focus groups to share my experience of the statutory care system.
“I think the most successful initiative I’ve participated in during my voluntary work with CREATE has been their Next Step program, which focuses on 15-25-year-olds and gives them that extra support.
“It’s a great help for young people transitioning to supported independent living to help with finding a house, a job, access to government funding; whatever they need.
Jake is driven to work in the sector that he grew up in to help young people from comparable backgrounds navigate out-of-home care and help them build their capacity to ultimately live productive, self-governing lives.
“I’m the sort of person, I walk into a room and walk out with everyone happy; I’m a bubbly guy,” Jake said.
“In my experience, there’s not many youth workers with the background care experience that I’ve had and I think sharing my knowledge will make a massive difference to another young person’s life.
“I want them (young people in care) to know that they should always ask for help, because it will be there, if they ask.
“To not be afraid to voice your opinion as a young person in out-of-home care. You have a voice. Especially with your youth workers, they are there to help, so ask for it while you can. They can point you in the right direction, like organizations like CREATE.
“And most importantly, never give up.”