Vicki-Tree Stephens is a born and bred Maori from New Zealand, but she has made Port Hedland her home for the past 15 years and devoted all her energies into bringing positivity into the lives of young people through the Youth Involvement Council.
She first came to Western Australia’s north in 2005 to visit her mother, who was working in remote communities. Her plan to get her teaching accreditation to work in Western Australia was put aside when she found a job in Hedland aligning with her passion for youth support work.
“Hedland grew on me quickly!” Vicki says. “I loved the country, I love the people, I love the work.”
Vicki has spent almost all her time since then at the Youth Involvement Council (YIC), including serving for the past 10 years as its chief executive officer, overseeing a staff of up to 40 people and a range of programs for at-risk local youth. These include drop-in centres, crisis accommodation, family support, an outreach service and night patrols.
Vicki spent five years as a case worker and coordinator with YIC before being offered the CEO’s role. Initially, she resisted because she was heavily invested with the welfare of the young people she was working with. But she eventually came to the realisation that she could still have a significant impact in supporting young people while working to make the organisation and its staff stronger, more effective and more resilient.
She is quick to pay tribute to those working around her, including YIC staff and board members, and the Traditional Owners, who provide a strong guiding presence on the board, as well as supporters in the broader community.
Vicki enjoys travel and getting out in the natural environment, though she admits she finds it hard to switch off from her “100 per cent plus” focus on her work.
“I will happily go above and beyond when you can see the long term benefits of this work for the community,” she says.
After 10 years, it is clear that the drive and passion that Vicki brings to the role every day has made a real and lasting difference.
Thank you Vicki for your support and leadership for Hedland youth!