Dave Drysdale has worked in Sunshine for the Youth Support Advocacy Service for four years. He spoke to Ewen McRae

What is your connection to Brimbank?

I commenced working for YSAS as a youth, alcohol and drug worker in 2013. I also have a number of friends who reside within Brimbank, so away from work I get to spend a great deal of time within the area, which is great.

What do you like best about the area?

I like the diversity of its inhabitants and also those employed in the area. Here you have a great mix of people – indigenous Australians, Anglo-Australians, Europeans, Africans, Asians, Polynesians and mad Englishmen such as myself! This I feel provides the area with a real community-like feel, whereby everyone seems to gets along, which makes it a great place to be a part of. This is something you may be hard pressed to see in most other Melbourne areas, I think … I truly cannot think of a better place to work, rest and play.

What could make the area better?

The halting of the gentrification process. With the Brimbank area being so close in proximity and accessible to the Melbourne CBD, be it via road or rail, there is a danger of the area becoming overly gentrified. Unfortunately, it would seem that the process has already begun if the property prices in Brimbank are anything to go by. There are some positives to this, of course … the area has seen some improvements cosmetically, there have been improvements to the transport links, we have also seen the construction of the new council building and library in Sunshine. The pitfalls, however, are that as the area becomes more desirable to out-of-towners and property developers, you run the risk of pricing out the very people that make Brimbank so special. I would dread for that to occur in Brimbank.

Where is your favourite place to go for a feed in Brimbank?

I am a growing lad with an ever-expanding waistline, and Thuan An, Afghan Star (both Hampshire Road) and The Rollin Dough (Ballarat Road) must take some of the blame for that, as I often purchase food from these establishments. Why? Because they offer great-tasting food at reasonable prices and the portions are substantial. It’s a no-brainer for me.

Tell me about your work with YSAS.

I commenced working with YSAS in 2013, initially as a youth alcohol and drug worker. At the time, my role was to support up to
14 young people in contact with the justice system who are subject to bail, deferral of sentences and court orders. Most of the appointments are of an out-reach nature, which is great for relationship building as you get to meet young people in their chosen environment, which in turn relaxes clients who are mandated to engage … a big part of the work we do is about building trust. As with anyone, if they do not trust you, they are not going to open up to you. As of January this year, I have been one of two team leaders for our Sunshine site at the Visy Cares Hub, whereby I supervise the Emerging Communities Project. The team is made up of three workers who provide support to young people, predominantly from the Horn of Africa, around a range of issues including substance use. The bulk of my work centres around supporting my team during their day-to-day work as well as managing the intake, allocation and referral process for the team. I also hold a small caseload of clients whereby I seek to support young people to achieve their goals around their substance use, reduce offending and link in to community connections.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Being a proud Englishman, I love football, that being real football. I believe Australians call it “soccer”. Being 40 years old, I am unfortunately a few years retired now, although I was pretty useful in my day. I say this without blowing my town trumpet, of course! Earlier this year I coached a Youth Junction (Visy Cares Hub) team, made up of clients who use the service, to victory at the seven-a-side Brimbank Cup tournament held at Cairnlea Football Club.

Another fun fact is that I once auditioned for X-Factor in the UK, without any success, of course, which is why I am taking part in this interview and not performing in front of
legions of fans in stadiums and arenas around the globe!