A decade of outstanding work helping Yeppoon youth
RUNNING a Queensland service centre for the Department of Human Services in Yeppoon isn't the only thing keeping Esther Warcon busy.
For almost a decade, Esther has devoted her spare time to being an active advocate for Yeppoon's Torres Strait Islander youth.
It's for this outstanding work that Esther received an Australia Day Achievement Award, recognising significant community contribution.
"I'm extremely passionate when it comes to teaching and promoting cultural awareness-especially my Torres Strait Islander heritage," Esther said.
"I'm humbled and grateful for this award."
Esther mentors young women at a local boarding school, many of whom are Torres Strait Islanders living thousands of kilometres away from their family and culture.
"As a Torres Strait Islander woman, I'm well aware of the difficulties of being separated from the community environment and extended family," Esther said.
"There weren't many Torres Strait Islanders living here when I first moved, and I wanted to make sure my daughters and others didn't miss out on the traditions, language, and connection to country that I had."
Esther also regularly visits Year 10 students at schools across Yeppoon as a guest speaker at leadership workshops that focus on the importance of finishing school.
"My aim is to close the gap to get them careers focused and self-sufficient," Esther said.
"I educate the students around support payments and how to test their eligibility, how to navigate the department's website and resume writing tips.
"I want the students to have all the necessary tools to achieve their goals when they finish high school and become the next generation of community leaders."
Over the years Esther has built relationships with many local businesses and her knowledge is highly valued within the community.
"It's a small Torres Strait Islander community here in Yeppoon," Esther said.
"So when people want to be connected with local services, now they just say, 'speak to Esther!'"