Rosie Cooper has a job many of us would envy. She’s never experienced a traffic jam on her daily commute, she wears shorts and thongs to work and she calls one of the most majestic landscapes in Australia her office.
Rosie, 23, works with World Vision Australia as a Project Facilitator for its Indigenous early childhood and youth program in the West Kimberley. The program works with Aboriginal communities to deliver early childhood and youth activities including community-run playgroups and after-school programs. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Melbourne, Rosie admits a job in the bush on the other side of the country wasn’t the first job out of university she had envisaged, but one she certainly doesn’t regret taking up.
“I’d always been interested in working in an Indigenous context, either here or overseas, and I studied that a lot at uni. So I guess this job ticked all the boxes, particularly working with children and parents, and also getting to see another part of the country, getting out of the city, it was a once in a life time opportunity, I don’t think I would have found such an amazing opportunity in Melbourne,” Rosie said.
A key part of Rosie’s role is working with community members; mums, dads, carers, Elders, to design and implement early childhood activities, including playgroups and parenting development workshops.
“I’m very much guided by the community, I don’t want to be the one coming in with all these big ideas like ‘you should do it like this’ I think the people on the ground are the people with best knowledge of what people want and what people need, and that’s the amazing thing with these ladies is that they’ve all got those ideas, I see my role as just supporting them in making them happen,” she said.
Rosie admits that she has had moments in the job where she felt a little daunted by some of the circumstances she was confronted with.
“In my first week a very important Elder passed away in a car accident, she was such a monumental part of the project and leader in the community, a really tragic event. It was the first time I had been to a funeral in that type of context, it was pretty eye opening; the way it was carried out and the certain traditions, there was wailing and crying and a lot of people letting their emotions out. That was a big learning curve, just seeing how things are done. It was sad seeing the community in such challenging circumstances,” she said.
Reflecting on what she’s learnt since taking on the role, Rosie says she’s grown both in a personal and professional sense.
“It’s made me grow up a lot. I moved out of home, moved to another state, had to be be completely independent, and then figure out a new job and starting full-tine work for the first time. I don’t think anything compares at uni as to what you learn in the field, I think the practical experience you get from doing the work is more than any lecture can teach you. From a professional sense I just got so much out of it, but personally I’ve got so much out of it as well, I feel I’ve grown in confidence, I’m a lot more aware of my skills and my abilities, and my strengths and weaknesses as well, I think this experience has completely shaped me as a person,” Rosie said.