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 Dunsborough and did all of my schooling in the south-west region before moving to Perth for university.

I have a sister who is three years older than me – she’s my best friend. She’s absolutely gorgeous, everyone just loves her; she was a model, runs a hotel and is undoubtedly the creative one out of the two of us! I might be book smart, but she’s street smart for sure.

My parents are also the most fantastic and enduring support to me. Mum’s a cancer and car-cash survivor, and is the wittiest, funniest and most resilient person I know. Dad is quite simply the coolest guy there is. You can’t meet two people who know more about music, food and politics; our little family was a tight unit growing up.

With that said, we were a poor family growing up too. I’m the first person in my family to go to university, and I feel very lucky for that.
One of my proudest moments was receiving a residential scholarship to attend uni after completing my TEE at Busselton Senior High School.

My family were and are incredible role models, and while I never wanted for anything, there’s no way I would have been able to go to university without the scholarship and without Centrelink assistance.

My undergraduate double-degree was in Law and Political Science at Murdoch University. I then undertook a Master of Human Resources at Curtin University. I went down this route because, for a long time after graduation, I lacked the self-confidence to pursue law. I thought I wasn’t “good enough”. I slowly realised that lawyers are normal people too, you don’t need to be rich to work as one. It’s not like Suits or Boston Legal! So last year, I completed my Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

I have managed complex & severe depression and anxiety since I was 14 years old. My mental health journey has included an eating disorder, self-harming behaviours and persistent suicidal ideation.

In 2017, I survived a significant suicide attempt. My recovery from that is every day and ongoing, but I’m so much more honest in my relationships with friends and family now. Without having hit rock bottom, I wouldn’t be as mature and as well-rounded a person today. It makes you far more empathetic when you see other people going through those same patterns. I can’t always offer solutions, but at least I can offer a listening ear. I still carry a lot of guilt about the trauma I put my parents and sister through, but they’ve been brilliant.

I now take full responsibility for the management of my mental health, and understand that this requires honesty, vulnerability and accountability.

I met my partner online in a swipe-right situation, which is a very millennial thing to say. But hey, my partner worked out at Bonnie Rock near Mukinbudin, so how else were we going to meet!
Before meeting him, I’d had a few long-term relationships, but this is much more serious and mature. At the risk of sounding corny, he is my soulmate. We know that in five years or so we want to be married and have kids together.
We dated long-distance for 6 months, but as Bonnie Rock is a four-hour drive from Perth, I started applying for jobs in the Wheatbelt.

In a stroke of luck, I have ended up in Dalwallinu managing the Community Resource Centre here. My partner’s just got a new job in Badgingarra so we’re getting closer to each other!

Taking up the position of Manager of the Dally CRC in February, at the beginning of the COVID crisis, was a challenge. The WA CRC network is excellent, we really support each other, however each centre is run independently and has their own set-up.

As my team was also very new and we hit the ground running with very little training, it was important for me to demonstrate leadership and be solutions-focused from the get-go.

Going forward, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, especially in moving away from our heavy reliance on government funding. I’m using an anticipatory approach, looking for alternative funding streams while always keeping the Dally community’s needs at the forefront of our service.
In addition to managing the CRC, I am now studying a Master of Agribusiness Management through Charles Sturt University.

I also run a non-profit service offering Resume Reviews and Advice. With the impact of COVID-19 still yet to be fully realised, I recognise that there will definitely be a blow to employment. Jobs will be harder to find and harder to get, but it’s not the Australian way to talk yourself up, which a lot of people find daunting. I wanted to assist in any way I could, so with this free service I provide a starting point for those that need it.

I love it here in Dally. Small towns have a beautiful feel to them, it’s an intangible notion, but they just do. They also embody true resilience.
If someone’s struggling, the whole community rallies around them, no matter their race, sex, age or creed. That’s something you don’t get in the city.

I would love to go back to practicing law at some point. At the moment I’m still helping people, just in an ad-hoc way with information and pointing them in the right direction. It’s probably more fun this way, because law isn’t my actual job.

Before I came here to Dalwallinu, I had the choice to take a job at the Fair Work Commission, but I knew it’d be a recipe for a mental health breakdown. I needed to change the ratio between work and the rest of my life, and I’m thankful I made this choice.

I love law, but it doesn’t need to be viewed in a myopic way. The skills are so transferable, it’s not so specific that I have to be in a courtroom to be legitimate.

The advice I’d give my fifteen-year-old self would be that the best is yet to come. And not to care too much about what other people are thinking - everyone’s just concerned with themselves, they aren’t thinking about you nearly as much as you worry they are.

Insecurity can breed a lot of bad coping mechanisms, but it’s not worth being focused on the negatives. As much as it’s good to have goals, you really don’t know where you’re going to be in ten years, so stop trying to plan everything.

Human - Emily Hanson
Interviewers - Anna Cornish, Babu Sajjad
Photographer - Babu Sajjad
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

Shire of Dalwallinu Dalwallinu, Western Australia Dalwallinu Community Resource Centre Mental Health Foundation Beyond Blue Shane Love MLA - The Member for Moore Melissa Price MP


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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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