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 a tiny town called Noongaar, which is half an hour west of Southern Cross. I grew up on a sheep and wheat farm there with my Mum, Dad and younger brother Tim. We sold the farm five years ago after 5 years of consecutive declining rainfall. My grandfather moved to the farm in 1950 after being born in Bruce Rock, where his great-grandfather had been farming at Noonegin since the 1860s.

My ancestor, William Butcher, came to Australia from England in 1844 and ever since then we’ve been living in regional towns across southern WA. My connections to Northam go back to my great- grandparents. My grandmother and mother were both born in the old hospital in Northam.

I went to a school in Perth which has an association with the Claremont Serial Killer case. Sarah Spiers was my mentor at boarding school and Ciara Glennons mum taught me Home Economics.

I started supporting the Fremantle football club in the late 1990’s, as after I turned 18 my friends and I used to go to Club Bay View in Claremont in the 90s. Most of the famous people we saw were West Coast Eagles players and they were horrible, so when Fremantle started I supported them. I liked the way they seemed to embrace Indigenous players a lot quicker than other teams did.

I met my husband Tom online. I was working for a station contracting to a mining company, completing an eight days on, six days off roster. Tom works in telecommunications, but for our wedding a couple of years ago he dressed up as a naval captain. I told everyone to dress up in maritime and marine themed costumes for my birthday and when they turned up I said, ‘surprise, we’re getting married!’.

I have a fifteen-year-old step-son and a nearly four-year-old daughter. There are a lot of times when I’ve found myself thinking my life would be so different if it wasn’t constrained by a little person. Because I’ve been such an independent person most of my life, I’ve found that very difficult to deal with.

We live in Perth but I work in the Wheatbelt. We live on three acres but we’re only twenty minutes from the CBD. At the moment I’m the Senior Biosecurity Officer with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development here in Northam.

My job involves auditing abattoirs, saleyards and other premises for lifetime traceability, footrot minimisation and stock movements both within WA and animals coming into WA. Biosecurity is all about hidden threats and preventing disease outbreaks, which is something we all know a lot more about now due to COVID-19.

Before working here, I spent ten weeks working with the Armadale Police as a Customer Service Officer, and before that I was at the Muchea Saleyards as an Animal Welfare and Projects Officer for 3 years. Every occupation I’ve done has been a male-dominated industry. I never had a problem with that. If you can do the job, that’s all they should care about.

I drove road trains around Australia for eight years. In that job you’re in a truck all the time and most of it by yourself. There’s a lot of money to be made but no life when you’re doing ten thousand kilometres a week. Audiobooks can be a good distraction, but if you’re not happy with your own thoughts it’s a terrible place to be. It takes a toll on you.

I was diagnosed with depression just after I finished studying Muresk, so I’ve had that for twenty-odd years now. Another thing I’m passionate about is road safety and making people aware of the dangers of both fatigue and distraction on the road. I lost one of my best friends on his 22nd birthday, even more friends whom outnumber the fingers on both my hands. I’ve seen first-hand the impacts this has on those volunteers who have to be there to be there to help the best they can in the worst possible situations.

When I die, I want to be able to say I dealt with everything that was thrown at me. I would like to instil in my daughter the sense that just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she’s restricted in any way.

Another thing I’d like to see is agriculture progress and even thrive in the face of the changing climate. If I had to meet my younger self to offer advice, my younger self wouldn’t have listened! My life seems to have been a whole series of ‘sliding doors moments’. All the mistakes you make in life, as much as they might hurt yourself or someone else, there’s a reason for it in the end.

Human - Louise Butcher
Interviewers - Shannon Boundry, Paula Whittington
Photographer - Shannon Boundry
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

#community #inclusion #humansofthewheatbelt

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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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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


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


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


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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