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Inside TaskForce with Jonte Duffy

AOD Clinician and Youth Outreach Worker


Why has TaskForce sponsored you to play footy with the Rowville Hawks?
To raise awareness of TaskForce’s support services for young people in the southeast.

How does sponsorship achieve that aim?
It sparks conversations. Young people, families and friends will ask what TaskForce Community Agency is and what we do.

What will those conversations lead to?
From informal conversations sparked by the sponsorship young people will get to know how to take care of themselves and others and where to go for help with, say, alcohol and other drugs counselling, if they need it.

The idea is to help teach young people about harm minimisation strategies. Many are at that age where they’re going to parties and experimenting.

On the footy field, what position do you play?
I’m a small forward, which means I start up forward and burst through the middle for a couple of minutes and then back to the forward line.

How does the sponsorship work?
Organisations can pay a small amount to have their logo on the club room wall as a player sponsor. The idea is to get TaskForce’s name out into the community among young people, spark their curiosity and start conversations.

How many young people are there at the Hawks?
It starts at under nines all the way up to under 17s. There are 20-plus junior teams with an average of 24 in each team and then we reach families and friends as well.

It’s a community, on an average Saturday about 500 people can walk through the clubrooms and see TaskForce up on the board under my name.

What kind of services does TaskForce offer young people?
There are alcohol and drug-related programs, AOD counselling, outreach and harm minimisation strategies.

How will you know if the sponsorship has worked?
Already it has sparked many informal conversations. We may never know fully what something like this can achieve because people won’t be harmed or maybe won’t communicate how the sponsorship alerted them to TaskForce. And that’s a good thing.

Why did you decide to become an AOD clinician?
To be honest, it sort of just jumped out to me. I’ve always wanted to do something in terms of giving back or helping in the community and being able to help someone who’s struggling.

Do you think that a young man involved in sport who is also an outreach worker will have an effect on other young men’s behaviour?
That’s the question. If you get a bunch of 40 young males together, all on the same page, who love their footy, love their community sport, it takes only a few to take the wrong route or wrong direction and the rest might follow. It’s important that they get to see some positive options.

How do you have those conversations?
That’s the tricky part, getting them to engage and have open chats. A lot of it is them showing vulnerability, which they may have never done before because at that age, it’s all about putting on this persona and putting on this front for your peers.

I think a lot of it is relationship building, building rapport and understanding where they’re come from, getting them to say little things and allowing them to sit in that space with you and feel like they’re comfortable in saying things that they might not say to someone else.

You have to build that that relationship on a therapeutic level, but also just be a human. That’s why this work involves a lot of one-on-one.