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Get to know Nicholas Fe’ao, an expert in trauma-informed care with experience delivering training to a range of learners. Here, he details the previous roles that led to him joining Maybo as a Training Specialist.
Over the last ten years of Nicholas’ career, he has had various roles including a Youth Worker, Caseworker, and Learning and Development Coordinator. Each of these roles has added a unique layer of experience and knowledge to his repertoire, leading him to join Maybo as a skilled trainer who can deliver engaging training to any audience.
Nicholas was born and raised in South Auckland, New Zealand. His roots are in the Pacific Islands of Tonga and Niue. He grew up in a lower socioeconomic area with nine siblings, so he has experienced his fair share of challenges. However, his culture and values have helped him thrive.
“My culture, faith, and family values are what give me hope and are why I want to help as many people as possible,” Nicholas empathises.
After spending the first eight years of his career at a global freight forwarding company climbing the corporate ladder, Nicholas decided to do something that fulfilled his desire to make a difference in young people's lives.
So he quit his job and joined a not-for-profit organisation that supported the Wellington community's disengaged youth and broken families. As well as his essential support role, Nicholas developed youth programmes for schools and organised various events for youth and their families.
Over time, it became clear to Nicholas and his team that the only way to make lasting change was to assist holistically. This meant living within the community, so mutual trust and rapport could be built seamlessly, enabling more significant social issues to be addressed.
“We often found youth would engage with us, but getting their families involved without any trust established was much more challenging. That is why using a holistic approach was vital,” says Nicholas.
This approach enabled strong relationships to be built within the local community, making it easier to assist individuals needing support.
In 2013, Nicholas took his valuable experience and skills to Sydney, Australia, where he joined a new organisation as a youth worker. His role focused on helping young people living in marginalised communities who were suffering from trauma. A combination that invariably led to them developing challenging behaviour.
Traumatic experiences can significantly affect an individual’s ability to regulate emotions and control behaviour. This, at times, presents as impulsive and aggressive and can lead to acts such as threatening behaviour, self-harm, and property damage, to name a few.
“I disliked how our clients were labelled difficult, manipulative, or a problem, and I wanted to break down those labels. It wasn’t long ago that we approached these individuals through the lens of 'what’s wrong with you?'. Now we have more information on trauma recovery and the importance of utilising an evidence-based approach from Dr. Bruce Perry, that starts with ‘what happened to you?’” Nicholas explains.
With a strong belief that people need positive relationships in their lives to thrive, he never gave up on the groups and individuals on the margins of the community.
“I enjoy helping individuals that have been let down by society. I can offer them the guidance they need to become functioning members of their communities.” Nicholas stated.
Nicholas went on to become a Learning and Development Coordinator, where he gained experience, skills, and knowledge in connecting front-line workers and management through training.
Nicholas said, “I had the privilege of being part of the team that embedded Maybo language into policies, procedures, best practice sessions, manager coaching guides, and other tools to help create consistent behaviour across the whole organisation. The blended eLearning and classroom approach worked well for our staff. I believe the ‘Trauma-Informed Approaches in Children and Young People’ modules is an excellent resource for any youth or children organisation.”.
At a Maybo training session in New South Wales in 2018, Nicholas met Lorraine Harvey, Director & Head of Training, and found her passion for Maybo inspiring.
“I felt I could learn a lot from Lorraine and help to continue some of the great work she and Neil had started.”
Nicholas could see that if he were to join Maybo, he would be able to add value to the organisation and grow as an individual.
Nicholas adds, “I love being in a family-like environment that encourages asking questions. What I enjoy most is having the ability to bring hope into some challenging situations and achieve positive outcomes.”
Through Maybo, Nicholas hopes to continue gaining exposure to organisations from various sectors and further develop his skills.