Newman youth worker Lee-Anne Ugle has been named The Y WA’s Australian staff member of the year for her efforts in boosting school attendance. Ms Ugle joined The Y, also known as the YMCA, about three years ago as the remote school attendance strategy co-ordinator and has spent considerable time driving around Newman to collect children for school, as well as launch myriad initiatives to help youths in town. As a response to the school vagrancy rate in town Ms Ugle began working with families to get them the support they needed to enable the children to be able to attend school without fear or guilt. In December 2020, Ms Ugle learnt children were often out all night, inhaling aerosols and engaging in anti-social behaviour. Off the back of this the YMCA WA created the Strong Way program to engage with young people after school and an evening patrol to provide a safe space free of judgement, a meal, water, and transport home. A free youth disco was also launched in March, as was an inclusive NAIDOC ball for high school students where local and Perth-based organisations donated outfits so everyone could enjoy the evening. Ms Ugle said she had a vested interest in the community, having graduated from the local high school. “I am very honoured and a little overwhelmed to be recognised nationally for the work my team and I have been doing here in Newman, but the real heroes are the young people we work with,” she said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in this role.” The Y WA youth community and leisure general manager Mark Furr said Ms Ugle’s work in Newman was inspiring. “I am so proud of Lee-Anne. She hates being in the spotlight but so deserves to be,” he said. “She has had such a positive impact on the young people of Newman.” The Y WA’s chief executive Tim McDonald said Ms Ugle was an integral part of the organisation.