22 February 2023

Ziggi’s commitment to social justice leads to an internship with Life Without Barriers CYF team.

Image: A group of people in formal wear at a CareerTrackers award event pose together, smiling at the camera.

Meet Ziggi McCarthy, a proud Anangu and Yamaji woman who recently joined Life Without Barriers to complete an internship. The opportunity was organised through CareerTrackers to support her Bachelor of Arts degree in Socio-legal Studies and Digital Cultures at the University of Sydney.

When Ziggi first left school, she knew she wanted to study, but wasn’t sure what area to focus on. Originally, Ziggi majored in sociology, but her passion for social justice led her to switch to socio-legal studies.

“Socio-legal studies focus on policy integrated with social justice. It looks at reforms and restorative justice, which really interests me.” Said Ziggi.

“I'm an Aboriginal woman myself, and I’ve always cared about putting in work for mob and seeing how we can better our lives going forward for youth and the community. So, I changed my major in my first semester, and I've loved it ever since.”

When Ziggi started university, she partnered with CareerTrackers, who assisted her in setting up internships throughout her degree.

“CareerTrackers is an organisation that works with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in high school or university."

"Their goal is to partner with organisations to help get placements for students during their breaks.

“It is a really great way to get that first-hand experience in the field and access opportunities to take on roles that allow you to develop a broader set of skills.

“They support you through your studies as well. So, every month, you meet with your advisor, and they chat with you about Uni and if you need any extra support. They really work with you through your degree, not just your internship. It’s nice to know you’ve got someone helping you through it all.” Ziggi shared.

Having access to organisations like CareerTrackers can make all the difference, Ziggi says.

“CareerTrackers does great work, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Not everyone graduates from high school, and not everyone goes to university, but I think if you can get to that position and then also get work experience, it can make all the difference.

“When you finish university, coming out with a degree and experience in the field looks awesome on your resume, and gives so much confidence. These internships really help to show that you can be in a corporate business, and you can belong there.

“There's no limit to what you can do, and I think having these opportunities is essential to building that confidence.”

Image: Ziggi, wearing a strapless orange dress, stands in front of a white background with the CareerTrackers logo printed on it repeatedly, holding an award.

As a person who is deeply committed to social justice, it was important for Ziggi to find an organisation that aligned with her values for her to complete an internship with.

“My advisor mentioned Life Without Barriers, which I'd never heard of before. I looked the organisation up and saw that Life Without Barriers was focused on working with people who don't have the same accessibility in society, whether that’s people with disability or children in care,” said Ziggi.

“I thought, wow, that is probably the best place for me to support what I’ve studied and where I want to go. So, I was really excited about the opportunity and landing a role in the Child, Youth and Families team.”

One of the key things Ziggi wanted to get out of her internship, was learning more about the processes and systems in place for children in care.

“Part of my internship has involved getting exposure to children in care and the processes involved, as well as working with the department. This has helped me gain a lot of knowledge on so many processes and interrelations between staff and practitioners,” Ziggi shared.

“I’ve also worked with the Residential Team, learning about how the Care teams build relationships with young people and develop plans to help them.

“This was really eye-opening and exactly what I wanted to get out of the experience.”

When reflecting on her internship, Ziggi shared that becoming part of the team and connecting with the staff at Life Without Barriers has been a real highlight.

“Everyone's very motivated to get the best outcome for the young people in care, which is awesome to see. Some of the staff are just so passionate and will really think outside of the box about what we can do to help and support the young people going forward,” said Ziggi.

“It’s definitely been a highlight to see the passion behind the staff and the relationships they have with the young people.”

Overall, Ziggi found her internship to be a really valuable experience.

Image: Ziggi stands against a cream coloured wall wearing a black button up t-shirt, smiling at the camera.

“I think the whole experience has been really, really helpful. I know that I want to work with, and help people moving forward,” Ziggi reflected.

“This opportunity with Life Without Barriers, and seeing it firsthand, has been an awesome experience and will help me in my studies and the next role that I end up in.”

And for anyone thinking about interning with Life Without Barriers, Ziggi says to go for it.

“If you have the opportunity and the means to, I think Life Without Barriers is an amazing organisation to work with.”

“You can go into some companies, and they say they have these values, and you don't always see that in practice. Life Without Barriers is values orientated. They really work within the values they set from the start and the principles, which is great to see.

“Everyone I've met so far has been so helpful and has really wanted to help me get the most out of the experience.

“If you have the opportunity to go with Life Without Barriers, I 100% recommend it.”

Ziggi worked closely with Claire Boardman, Operations Manager - Residental and Regional, Child Youth and Family Services, who shared how thrilled she was with Ziggi's performance.

"Ziggi has been a pleasure to work with. She is eager to learn, passionate, hardworking and has been a real asset to the team." Claire shared.

"Ziggy holds significant skills and knowledge in the space and has made a significant impact on many projects we are working on, including our induction and recruitment processes.  

"Thank you Ziggy, from the team at CYF WA!"

Now that her internship has finished, Ziggi has started planning for the future.

“I want to go overseas and experience different cultures, gain that travel experience, and meet people.

"I’m looking into socially based volunteering, working with kids or in the community and then bringing that experience back here before starting a masters degree in either social work or social policy.”

Ziggi also recently accepted a role as a Residential Support Worker with Life Without Barriers and is excited to continue working with young people and the Child, Youth and Family team. And we are excited to have her!

Careers at Life Without Barriers

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