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 was brought up by strong, independent women. Farming was my passion and motivator when I was younger. As a girl growing up in a farming community, the perception was that girls should stay at home in the kitchen.

Times have now changed and I am very grateful for my grandmother's strength and determination to continue farming. She faced many challenges back in the day when it was a male-dominated industry. However, despite her adversity, she managed to raise 5 kids and run a mixed farming enterprise that is still in operation today.

I have suffered my own mental health issues with bullying, bulimia, post natal depression over the years and found it very challending to find the right support living in the country.

I’ve been in the Agricultural industry for most of my working life. I’ve been a shedhand, a farmhand, worked on stations and in country pubs. I studied Agribusiness at Muresk. I got then went into banking and became a Rural Banking Officer with Rabobank and Westpac.

With the desire to start a family and need to stay closer to home I then studied Childcare and started my own family daycare business. Now I am lucky enough to be the ‘Jill of all trades’ at the Wheatbelt Health Network, where I’ve been for the past twelve months. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and experiences that it has provided me.

I attended an intensive course with the Creators Code, a company from Canada. The course helped to shift my perception versus reality regarding my past experiences. It gave me the skills and knowledge to be able to release all which no longer served me, continuing to not have any regrets or anger, which I’d built up over the years for various reasons. The course also helped me to realise that there are people out there who genuinely care and love you for you and expect nothing in return. Life is challenging, however finding the right guidance and support we can all get through it.

I have three brothers, and three sisters who are scattered around Australia. I also have seven nieces and nephews. I have two boys who are nine and seven, Riley and Joshua. I consider my children to be amazing young men that I am so proud to be called their mum.

As my children grew up I tried to get them into sport however Riley was not that child. He decided he wanted to be a scout because he loves the outdoors and animals. At that time there were no Joey leaders in Northam so I put my hand up for the job. I love the kids and that I am able to teach them skills they wouldn’t otherwise learn. Being outdoors and in nature is so important for a child's growth and development.

As parents, we often get so busy that we forget to teach our kids basic life skills. We work 9-5 and when we get home we’ve got to pay bills and do the washing, and sometimes the kids just get lost. Then when you’ve got five minutes to spend with them on the weekend and you take their technology away, they get frustrated with you.

Despite my challenges, I’ve had some amazing experiences and some big achievements. One of my biggest accomplishments would be losing sixty kilos. I have achieved many other accolades through hard work and determination such as Dux at Morowa Agricultural College, being nominated by my employer to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, winning a trip to Aruba, hosting the WA Joey scout sleepover, Scouting service award. I have traveled to Africa, Bali, New York, LA, and Aruba.

I’m excited about finishing my studies in Mental Health. Being in a health service has provided me that opportunity, so I’m looking forward to what is in store for the next chapter of my life.

I feel that country kids often find life challenging, and there are limited services available to support them. I want to work with youth and give them the skills and knowledge to shift their focus from negativity to positivity. It’s only in the past five years that mental health has really come into broader focus. We all struggle at various times and none of us want to be or feel alone. As humans, we have a natural instinct to help others however we are less inclined to ask for it. We just need to learn to ask for help whatever it may look like or be.

My advice to my ten-year-old self would be not to give up on your dreams and be true to who you are. Life is always evolving and changing and you will face adversity and challenges however you will get through it and have some amazing positive experiences along the way. We all have different experiences and perceptions, so one piece of general advice I have is not to be judgemental with ourselves or others.

There are people who are just brutally honest and straight-up; often those are the best people to have in your corner. It’s important to try to be authentic and not to care too much about what other people think as it is based on their own personal experiences and belief systems.

Human - Paula Whittington
Interviewers - Shannon Broundry, Anna Clements
Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

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

Shire of Northam Northam Women in Business Scouts WA Muresk Institute Rotary International The Creators Code Central Regional Tafe Northam Rabobank Australia Westpac National Institute of Mental Health


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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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