Kim Huckerby

Kim Huckerby has spent the last 13 years working extensively with young people, parents, schools and the wider community. She spent the first part of her working life coordinating a youth service that provided educational programs to high schools on youth issues such as alcohol and other drugs, safe partying, cyber bullying and sexual health. Over the last few years, she has worked with year 10 students in the Government’s Youth Connections program, engaging young people back into the education system while working closely with them and their families.

Kim has also built a successful consulting business which sees her continue to work closely with young people, as well as working with the Raise Foundation as the Director of programs for young mums in Sydney, Victoria and Brisbane. She also teaches Counselling, Case Management and Youth Work at the Australian College of Applied Psychology.

1. Could you tell us about yourself, your background, how you ultimately became a teacher/social worker?
I moved to Australia from South Africa when I was 6 years old. When we arrived, each week we would venture over from the North Shore to visit family and friends in the Eastern suburbs and we would drive past food vans helping homeless people in the Kings Cross area. This is when I said to my parents, “I’m going to help people like that one day” and here I am. I left School and went straight to University, knowing exactly what I wanted to be…

I started off in one job that always felt like the job I was meant to be in. This was coordinating a youth service that ran educational programs in High Schools on alcohol and other drugs, safe partying, sexual health and bullying. I had found my calling! I have a real passion for education and community awareness. After 8 years, 2 babies and studying a Grad Dip of Counselling, I decided to venture out on my own and find out ‘who I wanted to be when I grow up’ and I am still doing that.

2. What’s your current role?
I have my own business where I still go into high schools and run educational programs for young people and their parents. I have worked with some of the most high-risk, disengaged youth and have supervised staff and students at various organisations. I have run training programs, worked in supporting roles and now, I am working for the Raise Foundation in an incredibly inspiring role as Program Director of the Bump program, which engages and supports young mums. I am also an educator at the Australian College of Applied Psychology; teaching adults who want to become counsellors, case managers and youth workers.

3. What degree/s did you complete and was there something in particular that attracted you to these courses of study?
I completed my Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Sydney and then went on to complete a Graduate Diploma of Counselling at ACAP. After years of working in the field, I felt like I needed to expand my knowledge and understanding in the field of Counselling. This has helped with up skilling me in all areas of my work, specifically in group work, case management and supervision of staff, volunteers and students.

4. How has your degree supported you in your professional life?
A Social Work degree has given me the opportunity to work in a variety of roles and areas in the field. It is such a broad and all-encompassing degree and opens so many doors to the amazing area of Community Services. I remember when I was studying, I was engaged in units about youth, aged care, disability and the list goes one. I was also introduced to so many ‘types’ of Social Work like Hospital Social Work, Child Protection, Government and Not for Profit organisations and I really felt at the time like the world was my oyster and it was.

5. What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student?
I have fond memories of my final two years at University. The friendships that I made are lifelong and I loved being able to study and engage with like-minded individuals who challenged me and worked alongside me with a sense of purpose.

6. Who was your favourite Professor while you were a student at the University of Sydney and why?
Now that is a hard one, as in my last two years of my Social Work Degree I genuinely had amazing educators and lecturers.

7. What is the mantra you live by and what drives you?
I have a couple but the one I really try and live by, is about looking after yourself and self-care (I think we can all do this a bit better). You know on an aeroplane when they tell you that in the case of an emergency an oxygen mask will fall down and you are required to put it on yourself first before helping anyone else? There is a reason for this. If you don’t put it on, then you will lose consciousness and not be able to assist those around you. I feel strongly about this in regards to working in this field and ensuring that we put our ‘oxygen masks’ on first. If we don’t take care of ourselves, there is no way that we can help and support our clients to the best of our ability. Hope that makes sense?

8. What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to keep on doing what I am doing… when I left the Youth Service nearly five years ago to pursue a different path, I said to my husband ‘when I need to get a job, I will’… But I am still working in this diverse and interesting way, contracting to various organisations, teaching at ACAP and who knows, one day I might just decide to open up my own Counselling practice. But for now, I am loving everything that I do. The nature of contracting and working in this way means that I am forever in different roles and challenging myself…

9. What advice would you give to students graduating from the University of Sydney?
Soak up everything you can! Be a sponge. Be curious. Love what you do because it is challenging, it is rewarding and it’s a rollercoaster ride and more! Wake up with Gratitude each and every day because you have just studied and graduated from one of the most well-known universities in the World.

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