We’ve talked a bit about Monto lately – the small Queensland town at the gateway to Cania Gorge National Park. The town where you’ll find LiveBetter’s Monto Neighbourhood Centre and the dynamic team who work there, including LiveBetter’s Rural Youth Worker, Maddi Low.
We recently caught up with Maddi to learn more about her, and the important work she does in her community.
A bit of background
A dedicated animal lover, Maddi lives with her roommate and a menagerie of animals ( one horse, two dogs, and two cats) on five acres just out of town.
“We’ve just got really beautiful country out here. Cania Gorge, a beautiful national park, is just down the road. We’re lucky!”
Maddi’s love of animals meant that she used to imagine she’d work with them when ‘she grew up’. But upon graduating from high school, she decided to become a Paramedic. For two years she worked towards her paramedicine degree until a serious car accident left her with a permanent back injury – and no longer a suitable candidate for paramedicine.
“I came out of it but with some metal in my back, and so far, I’ve had three surgeries. It gives me constant problems, but that’s just life I guess…”
The repercussions of the accident have brought Maddi more than her share of stress, but she has found a way to deal with it.
“I’m a big reader. I love to read books, and I really love art. Drawing and painting really calm me down after a long day …and riding my horse!”
So how did Maddi go from being a student of Paramedicine to a Rural Youth Worker?
“It was my sister. She started working with LiveBetter about a year before I did. I was working in a bar and as a teacher’s aide – and trying to study.”
But Maddi was ready to shake things up a bit.
“Emma [Maddi’s sister] told me about her role at LiveBetter, and what LiveBetter does for the community. It just sounded fantastic to me. I loved the idea of helping people…and I thought it would be awesome to work with young people.”
Maddi’s sister, and her friends all encouraged her to apply for the Rural Youth Worker position and we’re glad they did! Today Maddi is key to ensuring that young people in her community get the support they need as they travel from childhood through to adulthood and navigate the challenges that journey can bring.
As Rural Youth Worker, Maddi works closely with young people in her community, providing them with information, and referrals to other support services if they need it. A couple of days each week Maddi operates out of the local high school, so she is on hand to provide help and support when and where it is needed.
“I help kids with basically anything they need. Helping them get on their feet. Helping them to get tax file numbers. Helping with their Centrelink and job applications. Helping with their resumes.”
She also delivers Life Skill Lessons to the senior class.
“We go through things such as renting, loans, job interviews and resumes in order to prepare them for post-school life. We also give the students the opportunity to let us know what they would like to learn about, and what they need help with before they enter the adult world.”
Finding her way
We asked Maddi if she had had a mentor in her life, someone to offer guidance and advice, and she talked about her horse-riding companion who she says not only encourages her with horse riding but also teaches her about life. About being disciplined, and about having patience.
Maddi believes that patience is an incredibly important quality for someone working with rural youth. For Maddi, patience is a quality that has been honed by her experiences recovering from the car accident, accepting that her dream of being a paramedic was no longer an option, but keeping on going. And discovering a new dream.
“I think I’m a very patient person and when you work with kids, you need to have patience. I understand that everyone has their own time to do things; everyone works differently.”
“Everyone has their own story.”
“Working at LiveBetter I’ve learned that everyone has their own story. Everyone has different circumstances and different lives that they’re living. We get people walking in every day from different walks of life. We don’t know what they’ve gone through. I’ve learned that everyone is different, and you can’t judge.”
The best thing (about your work)
The Hardest thing (about your work)
“Also the people!”
Top Work-Life Balance Tip
“Find time for yourself.”
What keeps you going?
“My family. Making them proud.”
Where will you be in five years’ time?
“I hope to be a secondary school teacher one day. I’m currently studying teaching, but I’m not in any rush. I really enjoy my job at the moment, so I hope to continue with the youth work until I finish my studies – but hopefully, I’ll be a teacher one day. I guess I hope that in five years’ time, I’ll be finishing my studies and on my way to being a teacher.”
And if there was one piece of advice you could give to someone who’s starting out in the community sector, what would it be?
“That you’re not superwoman, you can’t do everything. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Remember to let go sometimes.”