She gets things done
Marie Iafeta has a big smile and a humble disposition.
Both help in her role as Youth Service Manager at The Drum, the youth program at the Drummond St Services in Carlton.
Ms Iafeta manages the multiple programs delivered across the city, filling the critical task of organising funding along with giving a voice to youth who have not had one in the past.
Employed in the youth work sector since 2009, it is clear she has the qualifications and experience and an appropriate attitude of engagement with young members of the local society and neighbourhood.
Much of Ms Iafeta’s work centres around families living in the Carlton housing estate.
“These are people living in an unloved building,” she said. “It doesn’t feel safe, and we need and want to help.”
“Young people co-design all the programs delivered by The Drum; this promotes opportunities to learn how to navigate friendships and help deal with big personal feelings if and when they arise.”
The vital aspect of co-designed projects is that kids take lead roles and achieve engagement in a youth-friendly space that may not be available at home. While Ms Iafeta has lived experience, she does not attempt to understand what it is like to live on a public housing estate.
“However, I understand the issues because I have shared the issues,” she said. “I’ve had my time through different youth services and a number of complex issues that help me to empathise and become more intentional with my work.”
“I know how to connect with someone who doesn’t look like me.”
Her team at The Drum works with kids aged 12 to 25 and engages and encourages connection through word of mouth and social media.
All the exercises and programs have an element of problem-solving.
The process of learning those skills, e.g., cooking or making music, is covered by many steps that promote things such as how we connect with people from different cultures.
“This is not a cookie-cutter service,” Ms Iafeta said. “I don’t want to do intervention work; I want prevention work.”
“It 100 per cent supports relationship building and promotes the word you are enough, and you are perfect the way you are.”
Her colleague Hananiah, a practitioner at The Drum, describes her as someone with an “intent to make things happen; she gets things done.”
“She is a problem solver of the highest degree,” he said.
Ms Iafeta’s zealous ability to go the total yards and not give up on someone she is helping is evident to the people she works with and for.
When things get tough, and she needs a release, she takes off her shoes and walks barefoot on the nature strip at the front of the building on Drummond St.
“I think I have worn a track in the lawn by now,” she said with a smile. •