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Awarded for service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2007
Jen Barron was born in Hobart. She qualified as a teacher specialising in early education and taught in the North-East for eight years. As a teacher, Jen became frustrated at the lack of services in the region for young people. She was aware of the high unemployment rate and knew about the disturbing youth suicide rate among young people who live in country areas.
Jen decided to do something about this and she went back to university to complete a social work degree. As soon as Jen finished her degree she was given the position of Dorset’s first youth health officer, counselling young people on health issues (mental and physical) as well as working with the Dorset’s youth advisory group, which she established in 2001.
Jen has been described as ‘irrepressible’ and ‘zany’. She brings a unique exuberance and dedication to everything she does. She describes her role as “about 24 hours a day, seven days a week” and spends her time devoted to young people and their projects. Her connection with young people is extraordinary and they have been quoted as saying Jen is one of the coolest ‘chicks’ they have ever met.
Jen’s great strength lies in her ability to empower others to achieve their goals. Through facilitation, Jen encourages young people to be involved in their community, assists them in speaking up, and advocates on their behalf when necessary.
Jen’s connection with young people is not restricted to her work in the Dorset municipality. She has been an active member of Guides Tasmania for most of her life. In 2004, she took on a voluntary role as Music, Arts and Spirituality Consultant for Guides Tasmania and during 2005-06 organised MAD (Music Art and Drama), a statewide event for 250 Guide participants. This year Jen is producing a CD of Guide songs to give young people an opportunity to record and also to help pass on the tradition of singing within Guides.
Jen also assists young people at an international level and has volunteered on various projects in both India and Bangladesh through Guides Australia, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Youth With A Mission. Jen is currently involved in an ongoing project in Calcutta India that provides basic hygiene, food and education to under-privileged and homeless children. She visits the project at least once a year with other travellers, encouraging them to become involved. Her passion has also inspired young people to provide assistance.
Jen was recognised by the Guides Australia in 2007 by being awarded the Wattle Award for unusually good service to the State.