Our social worker is an Allied Health Award winner

We are so proud to announce that our Social Worker Marija Clark has been named Australian Social Worker of the Year in the prestigious Australian Allied Health Awards.

“It was a total surprise. I hadn’t prepared an acceptance speech in advance because I never imagined being a winner.”

Marija has been at VisAbility for 23 years. She has dedicated her working life to helping those with low or no vision.

“The Allied Health Awards are the equivalent of the Logie Awards! They are iconic. To become a winner is something quite special. It makes me realise that what I am doing is worthwhile.”

Marija Clark – VisAbility Social Worker

Marija stands outside VisAbility building in branded VisAbility top smiling
Marija has worked at VisAbility for 23 years

EverAbility Chief Executive Officer Anna Presser says it’s an outstanding achievement.

“This Award is a true testament to Marija’s hard work and commitment to her role. As one of our longest-standing employees, she has developed a strong rapport and nurtured relationships with clients over many years. Marija has made a significant contribution to people’s lives, and we are very proud to have her as part of the VisAbility family,” she explains.

“VisAbility now offers an Early Career Program to encourage new Allied Health workers to receive comprehensive training across its dynamic family of services. We hope to attract people, who just like Marija, are devoted to their roles and pursue long-standing careers with us,” adds Ms. Presser.

Advocating for others

As a child with vision impairment and born with Albinism, Marija attended school holiday programs at The Association for the Blind WA.

Marija also had to assist her parents, who were migrants and had no support network here in Australia. It was these early experiences that prompted her to become a social worker.

“I had to advocate and translate for my parents and myself as someone with low vision from an early age.”

“I remember being challenged by a conductor on public transport who said I wasn’t entitled to use a Blind Person’s Travel Pass. It was the name of the concession that was the problem. I have always had limited sight, so the conductor thought I shouldn’t be using it. The Pass is now the Vision Impairment Travel Pass.”

Marija Clark – VisAbility Social Worker

“I love such systematic change resulting from individual experience to help minimise suffering because it’s very much about what social workers do. I think this was one of many things that prompted me down the path to becoming a social worker, and I’ve been with VisAbility now for 23 years and very much love what I do.”

Marija went on to complete a Degree in Social Work at Curtin University.

Offering connections and support

In recent times, Marija has been instrumental in working with the Lions Eye Institute helping individuals who have been newly diagnosed with vision loss and connecting them to services.

“Losing your sight can be emotionally overwhelming. The ophthalmologists at LEI provide essential medical diagnosis and treatment, but I can support their emotional journey. It’s a privilege to be part of that journey.”

Marija Clark – VisAbility Social Worker

Marija has been helping people such as Adrianno under the care of LEI. Adrianno has retinitis pigmentosa and is slowly losing his vision.

“I feel as though Marija is my advocate and my cheerleader. Because she has vision impairment herself she can appreciate what I’m going through,” Adrianno explains.

“It can be a battle finding your way through the system. I liken it to panning for gold. You have to get through a lot of dirt or muck, and then you’ll strike lucky and find what you’ve been searching for all the way along. Marija has been there to assist throughout the process explaining the NDIS and the entitlements I can receive,” he adds.

VisAbility Social Workers can support you, your family, carer or friends to help you manage emotions relating to vision loss and feelings of grief. We can also offer emotional support and advocate to Government departments on your behalf.

If you’d like to find out more contact our Client Experience team on Cetenquiries@visability.com.au