Winner Shocked By Honour

Ipswich’s Young Citizen of the Year Tamara Whiting is still in shock after she was awarded the coveted award for her work in supporting mental health in the region.

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In 2018, Tamara developed the not-for-profit service Cunnara Paiabun Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation. This charity works to relieve suffering, distress and helplessness of individuals through culturally sensitive services.

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Tamara has a passion for helping young people with anxiety, depression, body image issues, healthy relationships, vulnerable and at-risk members of the community.

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She has also previously been nominated for several Mission Australia, Ipswich District Community Safety Crime Prevention and Telstra Australian Business awards.

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When Ipswich Local caught up with the 26-year-old, she was still coming to terms with the award.

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“To be honest, I thought the award was a joke at first. I was very surprised to get the confirmation that I was nominated, and then won. I didn’t expect it at all,” Tamara said.

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“I don’t know why I was nominated; I’d love to know why they thought of me, I just work hard and then go home.

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“I studied psychology and criminology at university and, even though initially I wanted to study architecture, I really discovered I loved working with and understanding people which comes in handy for any job,” Tamara said.

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“I also realised that I could genuinely help people rather than design big houses for rich people.

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“My mum is a social worker and she was an inspiration for me. I always wanted to be like my mum. When I was little, I witnessed her helping people and everything I’ve learned about business I’ve learned from her. I’ve followed in her footsteps but I think still in my own way.”

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“My mum is a social worker and she was an inspiration for me. I always wanted to be like my mum. When I was little, I witnessed her helping people and everything I’ve learned about business I’ve learned from her. I’ve followed in her footsteps but I think still in my own way.”

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Ipswich has a focus at the moment on Mental Health, with many support services opening their doors in the region, but it will still never be enough to meet demand.

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“Everyone can benefit from having someone to talk to,” Tamara said.

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“An average day for me is a bit of everything. I see clients, write reports, support people, advocate for people, write programs, it’s a bit of everything and it keeps me very busy. “I think there are some people who are still scared to ask for help, but the pandemic has seen that stigma change when it comes to mental health, and that’s a good thing.”

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Working with her mother isn’t always beer and skittles, as anyone who works in a family business will tell you.

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“At home she’s still mum, we share the same values which we take pride in, and we keep work and home life separate. We just work so well together.”

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Tamara has lived in Ipswich her whole life and says that the best thing about living where we do is the close proximity to so much nature has to offer.

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“I think Ipswich surprises most people when they come out to visit, everything is so close. It’s safe, it’s clean, and it’s a great place to live.

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“In my spare time, which isn’t often, I like to enjoy nights out with friends. On a Sunday morning, you’ll probably find me at a Café 63 – I’ll have anything with bacon, it’s always the perfect choice!”

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Tamara has one piece of advice to anyone who thinks they are suffering from mental health issues.

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“Everyone has stuff happening in life, and it can be hard, which impacts our mental health, so there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. We can’t always do everything ourselves”.

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