Regularly, we will feature a member of the HBNC team, giving you a chance to Meet the Neighbours. The goal is to highlight and celebrate the people at the heart of our organisation, who work tirelessly to make the Wide Bay Burnett community a stronger and more resilient one.

This week, we'd like you to meet Tarryn Anderson, Trainer and Youth Worker.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am South African born and bred. I left South Africa at 21 and travelled the Middle East for a few years. I worked as a waitress at some of the top restaurants in the UAE and was also a cocktail bar lady at Hard Rock Café in Abu Dhabi during the September 11 terror attacks. There was an incident at Hard Rock Café which saw me needing to leave the country. My family was in New Zealand at that time and so that’s where I headed. I went back to South Africa in 2003 and brought my now husband back with me. We lived in NZ for 10 years where our two beautiful boys were born (they are now 12 and 16 years of age). In 2011 we moved our little family over to Australia to be closer to family and thaw out in the warm Queensland weather. In 2017, our daughter was born, rounding off our Tri-Nations family! We love camping, fishing, hanging out at the beach, generally anything that can be done outside of the constraints of four walls. We are under no misconception that we have the golden ticket to be able to live in this beautiful country and everything it has to offer.

What is a quick summary of your professional background?

I started my working life as a waitress at 14 years of age to buy tickets to a music festival that my dad said I go to, but had to buy my own tickets for. I have a taste for adventure and everything costs money, so I’ve been working ever since. I worked in the financial services industry as a Business Development Manager (BDM) both in NZ and Australia and was regional BDM from Gympie to Cairns for around seven years before the position became redundant at the start of the Covid pandemic. I was presented an opportunity and started working as a residential care worker for young people. I took the opportunity to reskill and study diplomas and certificates in this area. At the same time, I had the opportunity to help a friend of mine who owned a training company, upskilling myself by doing a Cert IV Training and Assessment qualification and then being able to train a number of less fortunate people in our local community. I trained them in a Cert III in Community Services and Individual support. While I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do in the Community Services industry, I had worked out that I didn’t want to continue to do residential care. Then, while looking to advance my career in the Community Services industry, an amazing opportunity to work with HBNC came up.

What drew you to work with the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre?

While working as a trainer for my friend's training company, we hired the hall at HBNC to deliver our training courses. The people that I dealt with at HBNC were all so friendly and giving of their time when asked about their roles at HBNC. I quickly discovered that there were a number of different programs that covered just about every aspect and age group within the local community. I thought that if I could just get my foot in the door, there would be multiple opportunities to expand my knowledge within the sector. I was very lucky to be able to get a role in exactly what I wanted to be doing, and that is working as a Youth Worker and Trainer. The staff and volunteers at HBNC are from such varying backgrounds and cultures. The knowledge that each of them has to impart, both personally and professionally, is amazing and contributes to every single day at work being vastly different.

How do you see your role making a difference in the lives of the community’s most vulnerable?

Being able to work with youth and offer guidance and support in what is otherwise a very confusing and uncertain time in many young people's lives is very empowering. The opportunity to be able to show these vulnerable young people in our community that there are people who believe they are better than what they think they are, or than what they are being told by influential people in their lives, is not taken lightly.  To work with homeless youth in the Reconnect space is frustrating at times from a systems point of view, but liberating when we have wins and see young people in a better position in their lives because of what we could achieve together. By supporting our disengaged youth, we can make a difference by showing them they are worthy.

What’s one thing you hope to see happen or change for our community?

I would like to see a change in the availability of accommodation for vulnerable young people in our community. I would like to see a short-term emergency youth shelter for under 18s who may be exposed to domestic violence or addiction in the home, amongst other things.

Also, a hostel for young people coming out of incarceration to start wrap-around support from the moment their feet hit the outside of the establishment until they are able to stand on their own and support a healthy and safe lifestyle. Most of these young people do not have a safe place to go after being released. They reoffend within a very short space of time to go back into a safe environment with four walls, routine and three meals a day. I truly believe if they had safe accommodation to return to, a lot of them would have the best opportunity to make better lifestyle choices.