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“Sometimes you’ve just gotta bite the bullet and leap into it, and if you’re a bit of an over-thinker like me; ‘what if I’m not good enough’, ‘what if I’m not enough’, just have faith that you are.”

Meet Finlaey. Brave enough to leave high school mid-way through year 12 to find herself working in social policy and mental health advocacy at 20 years of age.

Finlaey is currently working with YACWA, the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia, where she supports the care of young adolescents and children through dealing with their mental health. 

“I’ve struggled with mental health from a young age, suffered from anxiety, depression, ADHD- and these things went unnoticed until I hit my breaking point.” she said. 

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Leaving high school half way through year 12 to complete a Certificate III at TAFE in Community Services, Finlaey got involved with her local youth advisory council. 

“It was through volunteer work where I got to know people like me who had similar stories, and it was a comfort to see that I wasn’t the only one."

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Fast forward about 12 months, Finlaey had successfully applied for a job with YACWA, and within less than a week, she found herself moving to Perth to start this new role. 

“I struggled with my mental health, as I always did, but having a sense of purpose is what kept me going.” Finlaey said, “At YACWA there are just so many like-minded people looking for change. Meeting people, networking, and getting to know their stories… it was really wonderful to see that there’s always some hope!

“That candle is still burning… and it is really wonderful to be able to explore and serve this passion.” 

Working with the government, Finlaey helps identify what the system is lacking in its support for young adults and how these issues can be addressed. She advocates for the rights of young people with mental health to support them in getting access to support from government services.

Finlaey is currently completing a degree in Journalism on the side, hopes to continue working with YACWA in the future, and once borders start to open up, she says, “I’m going to get out there and travel; I love meeting new people and hearing their stories!”

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