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’ve lived in the Wheatbelt all my life and I started school in York. Dad was on the Roads Board there in the fifties and he drove a grader. When the grader first arrived, nobody knew how to drive it except Dad, who had driven tractors on the farm. As soon as they’d trained up someone else, they wouldn’t let Dad drive it anymore because he was Aboriginal.

After that, Dad took us all around the Wheatbelt for his work. He was a labourer and farm worker. He was always seeding, ploughing, harvesting, shearing. Dad was a very strong man.

I’m the eldest of eleven children, four boys and seven girls. I lost the sister closest to me eighteen months ago, so there’s ten of us left. Mum and Dad always kept us safe and took us everywhere with them.

I went to school in York, Brookton, Corrigin, Quairading, Kellerberrin, Northam and then back to Kellerberrin. I loved Northam Senior High School best of all. I left school in Year 10 to take up a job in the Department of Native Welfare. That was in 1965. I made friends in high school that I still have today.

I had a happy upbringing. My father and mother were both Christians and we went to the Pentecostal Church every Sunday. We always had food on the table and a roof over our heads.

One of my favourite memories of growing up was when me and my sister got our first doll. To have a doll was something that we just longed for, that was really special. I also enjoyed going to visit our aunties in Brookton for Easter or Christmas. Just being with our family and the love that we had for each other is what I remember best.

I experienced racism in the classroom growing up, sometimes from the teacher. I was probably an average student but I knew my times tables and everything else. I was so shy because I was the only little black girl in the class and I often felt alone.

I enjoyed my time at schools in Brookton, Kellerberrin and Quairading. There were a lot of Nyoongar kids in those areas and you weren’t the only one in the classroom. You felt braver and you weren’t intimidated as much.

I met my husband Matthew in Kellerberrin where he was working on the railways. After we got married, we lived in our first house in Walarat Road in Northam for thirteen years. Then Matthew got a job as the pastor of the church in Kalgoorlie, so off we went. From there we went all over, first to Perth and then to Darwin.

I have six daughters; two are in Northam and four are in Perth. Having six girls in the house was something else. They were the rowdiest mob on the street! Now I have fourteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Growing up I heard my mum speaking Nyoongar, but only a few words. When I was older, two of my sisters and I went to Clontarf to learn more about our language. One of the elders we were learning from was Mum. I was shocked to hear that she could speak the language and she’d kept it from us while we were growing up.

Now I teach my little grandchildren and they pick it up easily. My mum was the person who had the biggest influence on me. I looked up to and respected her and the wisdom she taught us.

If I could give advice to my fifteen-year-old self, it would be to pursue a career rather than just settle down to get married and have kids straight away. My parents didn’t have the money to send us off to school and they were fearful that if they sent their kids to Perth they would never see them again. In my mother’s day, she wasn’t allowed to go to school even though they lived right across the road.

An important message I have for our Nyoongar kids is to get an education. Here in Northam, the attendance of the Nyoongar kids is the highest in the state. It’s partly down to programs like Clontarf, Wirrpanda and Follow the Dream, which are a big help.

All you moorditj nyoongar koolangas out there, I want you to rise up and be strong men and women. Get your education, don’t miss days of school and hold your head up high. All our wonderful elders out there, keep strong and happy and you’ll live longer!

Human - Deborah Moody
Interviewer - Shannon Boundry
Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

Shire of Northam Bilya Koort Boodja Noongar Language Centre 100.9fm Noongar Radio Wirrpanda Foundation Avon Community Services Northam Senior High School Shire of Brookton Shire of Quairading Shire of Kellerberrin

#community #wheatbelt #humansofthewheatbelt


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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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