VisAbility Social Worker Marija Clark has been named Australian Social Worker of the Year in the prestigious Australian Allied Health Awards.
Marija has worked for VisAbility for 23 years. She has dedicated her working life to helping those with low or no vision.
“To say I was surprised is an understatement. I hadn’t prepared an acceptance speech in advance because I never imagined being a winner,” Marija said.
“The Allied Health Awards are the equivalent of the Logie Awards! They are iconic. To be named a winner is something quite special and makes me realise that what I am doing is worthwhile and valued.”
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 from an early age. I also had to advocate for myself as a person with low vision. I love such systematic change resulting from individual experience to help minimise suffering. This is very much about what social work is about. 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,” she said.
In recent times, Marija has also been instrumental in working with the Lions Eye Institute helping individuals who have been newly diagnosed with vision loss and connecting them to services.