Within a day of arriving in South Hedland for a youth mentor intern role with the Youth Involvement Council (YIC), UWA Psychology student Natasha McCammon Metcalfe was already fully submersed in YIC’s programs supporting at-risk youth in the Pilbara.
“Within 24 hours of landing, Natasha was driving our vehicles, full-swing in programs, engaging with young people and taking it all in her stride,” said YIC CEO Vicki-Tree Stephens, who supervised Natasha’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship role.
Travelling over 1,300 kilometres from her hometown of Hillarys to undertake the internship, Natasha felt “extremely fortunate” for the opportunity to gain firsthand experience with an on-ground youth support program like YIC.
“The organisation works with young people aged 5 to 25 years and has separate programs dedicated to addressing the particular needs of the young people in Hedland,” said Natasha, who worked across YIC’s Deadly Hearts after-school program, Mingle Mob night safety patrol, emergency youth accommodation program and more.
“This internship made me appreciate how much organisations like YIC are really working to help young people who are trapped in a perpetual cycle of trauma,” she said.
“I was able to step back and see that quality engagement with young people, trauma-informed care throughout all services and time and attention does have a positive impact. It will likely take several generations, but the hope is that the young people of Hedland will thrive without the weight of lifelong complex trauma,” said Natasha.
Natasha says a highlight of the experience was working with YIC’s staff across their various support programs.
“YIC and its staff share their warmth, patience, and knowledge to everyone, when most would turn their backs. I feel grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside such tenacious and giving people,” she said.
The YIC team were similarly impressed by Natasha’s incredible dedication and compassion in her internship role.
“Natasha made a significant contribution during her short time with us. She slotted into the team with ease and showed great initiative to dig in and help with whatever needed doing on the day,” said Vicki-Tree Stephens, commending Natasha’s “calm approach” and ability to build rapport with young people in Hedland.
“During her time with us she worked way more than her required 100 hours, helped us write a driving education funding application, shared her knowledge with the team and was extremely impactful for such a short stint,” she added.
Natasha says the internship experience has “absolutely” helped her in her future goal to become a clinical psychologist with a focus on social justice.
“This internship fell directly in line with my passions and where I hope to be in the future. This further solidified my intention to build my career in this field. No matter the stories you hear, or the textbooks you read, nothing shows the prevalence of social issues and injustices quite like working with an on-ground organisation,” she says.