Introducing our new Principal Training Centre Advocate

We would like to introduce our new Principal Training Centre Advocate, Nadia Baldassi-Winderlich.

Nadia will be joining the Training Centre Visitor Unit to provide advocacy and support to the children and young people detained in the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

Nadia is a lawyer and most recently she worked in Melbourne as a Youth Lawyer with WEstjustice Community Legal Centre, visiting schools to the west of Melbourne and advising and representing children and young people. 

We sat down with Nadia to find out more about her…

What is one of the most important skills you bring with you that you will use when working directly with the children and young people in the Centre?

I think the most important skill I will bring is I’m not often fazed – by disclosures or unconventional circumstances or settings. I’m good at taking complicated situations and breaking them down into steps so that I, and the young person I’m working with, have a clear plan. It isn’t a skill, but I also really care about the people I work with, and am passionate about promoting their autonomy, and that underpins everything I do.

What inspires you to work with children and young people in detention?

Children and young people can face serious adversity and navigate really complex situations, all while operating within legal systems that don’t really respect their autonomy. There’s a real disconnect, for example, between being potentially criminally responsible at age 10, but not being considered mature enough to vote until age 18. The young people I will be working with have fallen foul of these complex systems, for whatever reason, and that can be a formative experience. I want to do what I can to assist them, and possibly support them to develop self-advocacy skills in their broader lives.

What are you most looking forward to in the role as principal advocate?

I take great joy from meeting new people and making connections! It’s my hope that I will have the opportunity to do this with the young people and children at Kurlana Tapa. I also want to be able to contribute to some of the Training Centre Visitor’s systemic work. I’m pretty passionate about trying to change broken systems, not just work within them. In particular, I’m interested in the areas of education and mental health but I do want to be led on that front by the children and young people at the Centre.

What challenges do you think lay ahead of you for the next 12 months in the role?

This is a unique role, with unique responsibilities. I think there will be countless challenges, many of them difficult to predict. I think trying to promote the autonomy of young people in a system designed to curtail that will be really difficult, intellectually and emotionally.

What three words would your friends and family use to describe you?

I always find these questions tricky

  • Curious  – I have a real drive to understand things and learn. Since I was a kid I have always asked a million questions – ‘how’ and ‘why’ are two of the main ones.  
  • Kind – I have a deep belief every human deserves compassion as a starting point. I try to treat everyone I meet with kindness.
  • Over-thinker – It isn’t ever a compliment, but I tend to think things through very thoroughly, and will notice minute details. I can get frustrated with illogical processes.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

This depends so much on the weather and my mood! I love reading and making art. Usually I do this by painting but over the Melbourne lockdowns I’ve gotten very into embroidery.  If it’s a crisp morning, there’s not much I enjoy more than a walk or hike with friends, but if it’s muggy, you’d struggle to get me away from the air conditioning.  

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