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.

For 18-year-old Matthew Fernihough, a sport he took up in the face of bullying has seen him grow into a martial arts champion.

The Northam teenager took up Muay Thai only a few years ago as a way of building confidence, which has now evolved into a devoted passion - a passion which has already seen him represent his country.

“At around 12 or 13 I started doing some martial arts with a trainer,” Matthew said.

“Over time I got more and more interested.

“Muay Thai was the one that suited me best.

“I wanted to learn an advanced skill, have fun while doing it and meet new people.

“The amount of respect in the sport is also a massive part of it which I enjoy a lot.”

The teenager has previously competed in a Queensland national tournament and walked away with bronze, narrowly missing out on competing at an international level.

But it wasn’t the end for Matthew.

“We got a phone call and the gold medalist pulled out and the silver medalist wasn’t good enough so we got to go to the world junior championships in Bangkok,” he said.

“It was like a miracle to us.

“It was a massive event and had over 800 entries.

“It most definitely gave me a taste of competing at that level - it was a great experience.

“It’s a good career to be in and it’s somewhere I want to be.”

Matthew has autism, although he doesn’t let his disability define who he is.

His dad Michael is his biggest fan, and said a lot of Matthew’s bullying was focused around his disability.

“With his autism, he couldn’t see it but we could - there was bullying in the classroom and in the community,” Michael said.

“As parents it has been a hard journey for us.

Human - Matthew Fernihough
Interviewees - Matthew Fernihough, Michael Fernihough
Interviewer - Anna Cornish
Photographer - William Luu

Woolworths WOOLWORTHS Muay Thai Authority Muay Thai Grand Prix Australia Muay Thai & Kickboxing Northam Boulevard Autism Awareness Australia Autism & Asperger Society Australian Institute of Sport

#community #celebrate #inclusion #wheatbelt

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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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