Helping youth get On Track: A chat with Tracey Blok-Earl
What motivates a mother to care for someone else’s children? Tracey Blok-Earl is the Program Manager for Carinity On Track, which provides medium-term accommodation for young people in the Rockhampton district who are in the child safety system.
You’ve had a varied career in customer service, as a transit officer and in sales and marketing for a FTSE 100 company. How did you transition into youth work?
I started by volunteering on a food van with Youth Off the Street, preparing food and handing it out to the homeless. Somebody I knew had started working for Father Chris Riley and mentioned working with young people and they thought it might suit me, so it went from there!
Did experiences when you were younger inspire you to work with disadvantaged young people?
I guess I was one of these youth! I had my son at age 15 and had to complete my education whilst being a very young mum. My son is now a 31-year-old man and doing well in life.
You’re the Program Manager of Carinity On Track in Yeppoon. What does the service entail?
On Track cares for young people aged 12 to 18 who are unable to live with their parents or other carers – through no fault of their own – and need 24/7 care in a homelike environment. I lead an incredibly passionate and skilled group of professionals caring for a group of young people that have complex needs due to trauma, neglect and abuse.
Our team are there for our young people on their birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas Day and every other day and night. We share the kids’ successes and their hopes and dreams.
You moved from Sydney to Rockhampton to work more intensively with the indigenous community.
In Sydney I had always worked with a diverse client group including some indigenous young people and refugees. I had the opportunity to work in Alice Springs however the distance from my family in Sydney was a barrier. Central Queensland offered the best of both worlds. The indigenous community here has an amazing strength of culture that I feel privileged to learn about and assist.
Have you embraced life in Central Queensland?
I love it! It’s an incredible area. The people are friendly and welcoming, they look you in the eye and ask you how you are and wait for a response. Plus this area is absolutely stunning with fabulous snorkelling and the Great Barrier Reef! I have a passion for sea turtles and volunteer as a ‘turtle taxi’, taking sick or injured turtles for medical treatment.
What are your other passions?
I love gardening and only have edible plants at my house. I also collect The Jetsons memorabilia. I have a first edition Jetsons comic, books, videos and figurines. I would love a cartoon cell. I love The Jetsons due to its futuristic and hopeful attitude, plus I would love a machine that I step into to shower/dress all in one! George Jetson is probably my favourite character as he cares about his family and tries his hardest in life.
This article originally appeared in Carinity’s Belong magazine. Read Belong online and subscribe to the magazine.