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 born in Pingelly WA and spent the first part of my life in Coolbellup until I was twelve. From there I moved back to Pingelly, where I lived until I was thirty. As for whether I prefer the city or country, I’m on the fence because I love both and have family in both places.

I am the eldest in my family with one brother and two sisters. I am married to a beautiful Noongar Yorga and we have three beautiful children, two boys and a girl all of whom are my world.

I first started working for the WA Country Health Service in 2011. I started off as a driver for Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service, which lasted for about a year.

I left to study Indigenous Community Management and Development at Curtin University and I picked up a part-time job at Boddington Gold Mine with Newmont’s environmental team, before returning to Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service where I worked for the next 5 or 6 years as a Health Promotion Officer in Aboriginal Men’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing.

After that I wanted to try something different so in my early thirties, I moved my family to Perth and began working for North Metropolitan Health Service at Sir Charles Gairdner and Osborne Park Hospitals as an Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer.

At Osborne Park, this involved looking after elderly people who came to Perth from up north, many of whom speak English as a second or third language. When they come down, they tend to get stuck without family support. At Charlie Gairdner, there were a lot of North westerners but also a lot of Nyoongars too. The doctors and nurses treated us as key parts of the team. Everybody got along and it was a big community.

Life then drew me and my little family to Narrogin where I returned to work for WAHS taking up the role of Acting Wheatbelt Aborignal Health Coordinator for 9 months. Being part of the WA Country Health Service, Wheatbelt Executive team during this time was a real good experience. I was able to build on my skills and knowledge and be part of the decision making that affected Aboriginal health in the Wheatbelt.

My passion is health and Aboriginal community development. Those two go hand in hand, because health and community is what our people are all about. We need to be aware of the impacts of colonisation our people are facing, which has caused their health to deteriorate over the years.

I’ve found that the more mainstream a service becomes, the more watered-down our culture becomes within that service. My dream is to see an Aboriginal Medical Service established in the Wheatbelt, staffed and controlled by the local Aboriginal community. That way, our culture will always be at the forefront of the service.

One of the issues our people face is homelessness, which has a severe impact on their health. With homelessness there comes overcrowding because our people are caring people and we like to look after each other. Overcrowding impacts our eating habits which causes poor nutrition.

Fast food is more convenient, quicker and easier, but the kids don’t get the nutrition they need from it. If we can have families in their own houses with their own setups, with them working and their kids going to school, our people can earn the income they need for their families to live healthy. The fast-food outlets have a big impact on our people’s health.

I was speaking to an elder recently about the way things have changed over the years in terms of what people eat. She grew up out in the bush and never had to rely on fast food, whereas the younger generation is much more reliant on it. With that, come the health impacts of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Learning how to cook a healthy meal at a young age is extremely important and it’s something that should be emphasised more in schools and community services.

I remember when I was in about Year 6 or 7 I wanted to be a youth worker because there wasn’t much for us growing up in Pingelly. There needs to be a change made so our young generation can look forward to growing and developing in their own way and in their own communities.

In 2013 I founded the Moorditj Youth Foundation Aboriginal Corporation, which I manage. We work with at-risk youth, some of whom are referred to us by Juvenile Justice.

I’m wearing many hats at the moment. I’m also working part-time for Aboriginal Health and part-time as the Acting CEO of KEEDAC (Kaata-Koorliny Employment and Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation). I’ve only started with KEEDAC recently, so I’m just getting a feeling for the staff and the role.

I stay connected with my culture as much as possible, for instance by teaching my kids language at home.

When I went to school I had to learn French and German, but I would have been a lot better off learning Nyoongar.

My thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement is that it’s important but there are better ways to make change than through violence that we have seen a lot of lately. Smashing shops and killing people is no way to make change happen.

I believe that the best way to make change is through education. We need our young people to be comfortable and respected at school so they continue to engage.

We need our kids to know the pathways and to know what’s available to them outside of their own communities. We need to encourage our mob to go to TAFE or University so we can get our mob into the system and to be the ones making the policies that will impact our people in a positive way in the future.

Human - Malcolm Jetta
Interviewer - Shannon Boundry
Photographer - Shannon Boundry
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

Narrogin, Western Australia Narrogin Observer My Healthy Wheatbelt Noongar Language Centre 100.9fm Noongar Radio Australian Government Department of Health WA Country Health Service HealthyWA Aboriginal and Tribal Nation News NACCHO Aboriginal Health Australia


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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

Therapy Plus
104 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444

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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