Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

I am a small-town country girl with a big city appetite. I was born and bred in Wagin and that’s where I live. I’ve always lived life in full colour. I grew up in a shearing community as my parents were shearing contractors. My mum is Māori and my dad is Aussie, making me a ‘Mozzie.’ Being a child of the shearing industry gave me a lot of hard-working foundations. Sometimes the smell of success isn’t roses but sheep poo!

Family is the foundation of my whole life and I’m proud to have such a large family. My brother is three years older than me and we had completely different outlooks on life. I’m always looking to the bright side and the future. I’m the third Londa in my family and the name means ‘white rose upside down.’ My middle name, Hurahia, means ‘what’s next, what’s to come.’ My names give a good indication of my personality.

Unfortunately I grew up as a child of divorce. That completely changed the course of our lives when I was eight. My mum was a wool-classer and always travelling so I had to become an independent very quickly. I held down five different jobs from the age of ten. I’d make cookies for shearers, a cleaned shearers houses, a worker in the fish and chip shop, a waitress and a shed hand on the weekends. My parents unfortunately had quite a difficult, lengthy divorce and the tender points for my brother and I were quite hard. When you live in a small community, people are often quick to judge. It helped me to understand what I wanted out of a marriage as an adult. My hope is that if people do get divorced, they go and get the help they need. At the end of the day, they are both still parents.

I’m fiercely independent and I’ve always felt safe enough to ask for help. I chose to have a bright outlook on life and to learn from other people’s mistakes. I always knew education would take me places and I was always a leader. I was the vice-captain of Wagin DHS and I often went on Rotary Youth Leadership camps. When I was in Year 10 we had a presentation from the Air Force and I thought ‘This is my ticket out of here!’ My best friend and I signed up but I fell in love so I didn’t go. I chose a life of love and family and to stay in Wagin. I’ve been with my now-husband for twenty years and we’ve been married for sixteen. We have four incredible boys together. Logan is fifteen, Hunter is twelve, Taine is eleven and Jordan is six. I’d take four boys over four girls any day!

Straight out of school I started my traineeship at the Shire of Wagin and then I got a job in Narrogin. From there I was offered a job with Commonwealth Bank and I stayed with them for seven years. It gave me a chance to see how the finance world worked. As a young mother, I decided to go into Nutrimetics and Tupperware to keep myself busy and learning. I went on to have baby number two, which as any mother can tell you makes your workload feel like having ten. After the third child I decided that was enough for me as I spent a lot of time volunteering and being on various committees. My family ran the shearing competitions and was always involved at the Wagin Woolorama which was a big part of our lives. I wanted to do more so I became the 2008 Young Rural Ambassador and the first State Winner and National runner-up in Wagin’s history.

In 2015, I decided to take a trip to Cambodia to do missionary work with an organisation called Stitches of Hope. It’s a Christian organisation teaching Cambodians to sew and develop alternative industries. We were able to connect with a community that were just so appreciative and grateful for what they had. It made me realise how blessed I am to have the life I have in Wagin. When I came back my husband and I decided we’d have one more child, Jordan. In between this time I was also working for the Wagin Community Resource Centre and that really helped to infuse my passion for my community.

Shortly after having a hysterectomy, I went back into banking. I did that for about eleven months but it just wasn’t for me anymore. I decided to be the practice manager for Wagin Doctors’ Surgery and I learned so much about our community and healthcare. I worked in aged care because I truly believe that every young person should volunteer with the elderly. That brought me to Wheatbelt Health Network. How I came to this position is a bit of a giggle. I saw it advertised and thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t think I would get the job because it was based in Northam. I was unsuccessful and then I was volunteering as a Zero to Hero Camp Hero which is all about suicide prevention, a passion of mine. I’d been away on camp for five days in Dwellingup and when I got back I had a phone call asking if I was still interested in the job. This role spoke to all of my skills and passions. My job is to spread joy and happiness to people who might be feeling a sense of isolation in their lives. Being the Project Officer for the Deco Arts Projects is one of the greatest jobs I’ve had to date.

Recently I had a double hip replacement, something not many thirty-five year-olds would ever have. Everything that’s happened to me has added to the story of who I am. Last year I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’d always known I was running on a different frequency to everyone. I was either hyperactive or flatline. When I shared my diagnosis on social media I realised there were so many people in need of a similar diagnosis. Being on medication has helped me to understand that it’s better to do one job well than a million jobs to a mediocre standard.

At school I was always someone people came and talked to. Later when I was working at Wagin CRC we had a string of male suicides and I wanted to get the community together to see what we could do. I soon realised I was out of my depth. We got workshops and training from organisations like Safe Talk, Assist, RU OK Day, Beyond Blue and Act Belong Commit. Now I volunteer as a Mental Health Ambassador to help educate people about mental health issues. When speaking to young people I discuss my own ADHD as an ability, not a disability. One of the things we’re doing with the Deco Arts project is to break down the stigma of people’s different journeys and challenges. People are more inclined to talk to you if they’re engaged in doing something creative. Instead of saying ‘disability’, I say ‘capability.’

In my downtime I love to work on dried floral arrangements. It’s a connection to nature and something I can do to zone out. It’s just me and this craft. People struggle these days because they are always connected and online. We need to find a hobby that takes us away from our screens. If I had to choose a favourite childhood memory, it would be every week when we came together for roast night. There would be singing music, dancing, card playing and laughing. It was such a treasured time for our whole family. The flavours of those childhood memories have stayed with me, and it’s something we’ve tried to carry through with our own kids.

I’ve been the girliest girl since I was able to walk. I’ve always loved high heels and lipstick and I’m a qualified makeup artist. I’m a firm believer in getting dressed up every day even when I’m working from home. It’s also a form of self-expression and fashion is a part of my identity. I get 90% of my clothes from op shops and other forms of ‘slow fashion.’ In terms of my passion for fashion, I ran the Wagin Woolorama fashion show a few years ago because everyone loves a fashion parade. This year I wanted to do a cultural awareness and collaboration show to showcase the three main cultures we have in Wagin: Aboriginal, Māori and European Australian. It’s all about us walking as one. I wanted people to feel a connection to country, culture and their own self-expression in fashion.

One piece of advice I’d give to my younger self is to take a gap year and travel. Don’t be such a people pleaser, make sure you do what you need to do for you first and then the rest will follow. I live by the quote ‘You need to be yourself regardless of anyone else. There’s only one you.

Human: Londa Finlayson
Interviewer: Matthew Jackman & Babu Sajjad
Photographer: LENA photography

#wagin #shearingshed #youngmum #wheatbeltfamily #wheatbeltlifestyle #adhd #adhdawareness #floralartist #passsionforfashion #mentalhealthawareness #londa #livinglifeinfullcolour #wheatbeltmum #careermum #travel

Shire of Wagin


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After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

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