Deborah Brewer is a social worker and a teacher with a strong commitment to community, sustainable development, building educational capital, social equity, and social justice. Deborah lives in the Nelson electorate in Sandy Bay with her partner and two youngest sons.
Deborah grew up and completed secondary education in Hobart, leaving school to work in Year 11. Deborah’s first interest was in horticulture and she started work at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hobart. This early exposure to the natural environment established a lifelong love of the outdoors and fostered Deborah’s passionate belief in caring for the natural environment.
Deborah believes our role is as caretakers of our natural environment because of its importance to future human well-being. After Deborah’s first son, Luke, was born in Darwin, she returned to Tasmania and began work in the non-government sector of community and social welfare. The work with vulnerable young people and families established a strong sense of work purpose and commitment to social justice and equity. Deborah returned to education to complete a degree in Social Work at Monash University in Melbourne.
Deborah’s own experience of returning to education as an adult fostered a strong belief that formal and informal learning creates opportunities and changes lives, empowering participation in work and community and developing communities.
Deborah now has four adult sons and a large extended Tasmanian family. Her work in social work over thirty years has taken her away from Tasmania to East Timor to volunteer for Australian People for Health, Education and Development, to the Northern Territory to work for the Defence Department, and to Christmas Island as the Island’s social worker. Youth-work and social work with young people and with families in Tasmania has brought a depth of understanding of many of the social challenges Australia faces and how these issues need our attention to ensure broader community well-being and a future of community wide and shared prosperity. Teaching Community Work in Hobart for over fifteen years has provided Deborah to pass on her knowledge, experience, and skills to vocational education students aspiring to work in Community Services.
Having worked in the community services sector and engaged with others working in the sector for many years, Deborah understands it is important to create education and community participation opportunities. Over the last seven years Deborah has been proactive in enabling youth to have the opportunity to complete their education, participate fully in work life and creating solutions and building the capacity of their communities. Over the last two years, Deborah has been significantly involved in responding to complex issues arising from the care of young people with complex issues, early intervention programs for families, and youth-at risk.
Deborah believes a balanced approach to development is key. Tasmania’s future positive direction and the well-being of Tasmanians lies in responding to important local issues such as transport, housing, work participation, and community well-being. Getting this balance right is crucial. An asset-based approach and creating opportunities for the community to have a voice on community issues achieves better outcomes.