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 grew up in Fremantle where I attended primary school near Spearwood and high school at Hamilton Senior. I’ve recently returned to the Wheatbelt but I know the area because my mum is from York and my dad is from Quairading. My mum is a Pickett and my dad is a Garlett, so I’m related to two of the main families of the region. I have family everywhere around here, but most of them don’t know me.

My parents were both Ballardong people but they also had connections to the Whadjuk Noongars from the Swan River region. One of my ancestors and his sister were picked up by the Franciscan monks on the banks of the Swan River because the white settlers had massacred a tribal group, leaving only about ten children.

Growing up, it wasn’t the ideal environment because my father had his struggles and he wasn’t able to teach me what it was to be a man. It was embarrassing for me because I had friends who came from functional families and their lives seemed more normal. My father passed away when I was about twenty. He had a very unhappy life and everything he did reflected that, especially toward us kids. My mother was the total opposite and she was the real strength in our family.

My mother passed away when I eighteen, but I still carry her life lessons with me. She taught me so much about being a human being and a nice person.

When I left school, I went to live in Katanning. I worked in shearing sheds from my late teens until about twenty-two, which was hard yakka. The culture was to work hard and drink hard. Drinking was the only social activity we had, but after a while I realised I liked the alcohol too much and I didn’t want that, so I left that lifestyle.

I came back to Perth to stay with my older brother. I studied psychology at university for a while, but didn’t complete that. While I was studying, I was seeing my partner and working two jobs. I was really enjoying the lifestyle in Perth, living the dream, but then I got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

I went downhill for a long, long time—twenty years. I became a drug addict and even though I wanted to break the habit, I didn’t know how. It ruined my life—my relationships, the jobs that I had, everything. I was extremely unhappy and I ended up in gaol. I contemplated suicide, but after a while I decided that I either needed to get busy dying or get busy living, and I decided to live.

To turn my life around, I had to become totally honest with myself. I needed to become comfortable with who I was and what I stood for. I started saying to people, ‘hi I’m Wes, I’m gay.’ During this time, I kept re-living the relationship I’d had with my dad. It was always unresolved with him.

Now I felt much better and my feelings are totally resolved. I’ve started on this journey now and I’m looking forward to it. I want to study an Aboriginal health worker’s course and from there I want to get a job in a LGBT support role in Perth. I’ve dealt with a lot of racism and homophobia. I want to give to the community the sort of support I wish I’d had when I was younger.

Being Aboriginal, you’re born political. You can try to deny it all you want, but the history is there. I know the world I’d like to live in. It’s a world of love, understanding and respect for everyone. One of my friends told me, ‘it’s easy to love those who love you back, but can you love the ones who don’t love you back?’

The best moment of my life is right now. I’m free from the nightmare of where I’ve come from. My advice to people is to love yourself because you are awesome and perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to change for anyone.

Human - Wesley Ford
Interviewer - Anna Cornish
Photographer - Tom Gratis Roh
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project supported by Department of Communities.

If you need assistance please call Rurallink 1800 552 002 or Lifeline 13 11 14.


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The Wheatbelt Health Network offers support including General Practice, Nursing, Mental Health, Allied Health and Visiting Specialists.

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NORTHAM

Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

TOODYAY

Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri

WUNDOWIE

Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays

NARROGIN

Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

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.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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