Here at Westpoint we’re celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. In our neighbourhood, people are creating positive change every day, making lives better, taking care of those in need and creating a place where we all feel safe and welcome. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you – to show you that there is so much good in our community, and to say how proud we are to be a part of it. Because ours is a place for everyone, where our community comes together.
Meet Joshua Waters, Youth Engagement Officer at Blacktown Area Community Centre Inc.
For this impressive young man, giving back to his own community is everything.
As a youth, Josh attended a Community Centre himself, and found out first-hand how helpful their support could be for young people in need.
“During that time, I was really struggling with some tough stuff that happened in my life,” he says. “I formed a trusted connection with one of my youth workers there – they put me on the straight and narrow path and supported me through the tough times, and I just really loved the support and help that they gave me. I just want to be able to give the whole community the support that I received when I was young.”
Once he turned 18, Josh began to study community service, and completed his work placement at the same centre he had attended as a youth, before joining BACC, where he has now worked for three years.
“It’s a very rewarding experience,” he says, of his role as Youth Engagement Officer. “The best part of working with young people is seeing them start to take steps towards achieving their goals, no matter how big or small those steps may be.”
“I have a big passion for helping people in the Blacktown community find their purpose and understand how valuable they are as individuals,” he adds. “Through our youth programs, I'm able to see young people develop their confidence skills, which then helps them to work towards their goals.”
For Josh, it’s seeing these young people grow and flourish in the community that makes his job so worthwhile – even in the tough times. And he truly believes that a sense of true community can make a difference.
“A community is more than just a group of people living in a particular area,” he says. “A community is a group of people who lean on when times are tough, our friends, family, and neighbours who are there for us when we need support and encouragement.”
For Josh and his twin brother Nathan, the work they do is varied – from Zoom cooking classes and workshops to information/assisted referrals and includes going into local schools in the area to work with youth. They also had the opportunity to work with Cobham juvenile detention centre during the state’s COVID lockdown period.
“During school terms, we go into local high schools and deliver our Department of Community Justice funded school engagement program. Always the first session is a getting-to-know-you session, so we like to build that rapport and relationship with young people, and we present topics such as communication, healthy relationships, hygiene, nutrition, and fitness, assaults and bullying, resilience, and mental health.
“We've just recently written up some more topics like drugs and alcohol, smoking, vaping, how to support a friend that's going through managing stress, depression, anxiety and extreme sadness.”
Of course, for serious issues like assault and bullying, the team bring in the New South Wales Police. “We try to get different services because we're not a mental health service or the Police, we don't know everything,” says Josh. “We're trying to get a lot of services around the Blacktown LGA to come in and show the students, look there are other services around, it's just not us to help you and there is support, care and love after you finish school.”
While some of us may find the work that Joshua does confronting, and at times even heartbreaking, he says he’s truly inspired by the people around him.
“I like how the Blacktown community is so diverse. It's exciting to meet new people from different cultures and learn about their backgrounds while finding ways to support them.”
“I want everyone to know that no matter where you are, no matter what you face, no matter how happy or empty you feel inside, you're never alone in this world. There is always someone there that cares and supports you.”