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.

Part 2 - Darren

I’ve been in social work for a number of years, but I was a chef before all this. I found that I really enjoyed working with people struggling with mental health challenges and understanding what was going on in their life.

When I decided I wanted a career change, I went into mental health nursing. Food, feelings … not that big of a gap! At first I was working in hospitals, but I struggled with that as it felt like warehousing. A lot of clients would say things like ‘when I was younger I wish that…’ and that really stuck with me. It was a natural progression that I wanted to work with people who were younger.

What rejuvenates me is feeling like I’m an advocate for social justice. I’m really lucky to have people around me I can debrief with and talk to, both here at Headspace and in the broader community.

It’s important to be able to celebrate wins and also to offer comfort over losses. It’s important for me to show emotion when working with young people, to be comfortable with my emotions so that I can be present with them. When I feel like I need to lean away, that’s when I know I need to look after myself.

In five years I’d like to see Headspace as a full centre with a full range of services. I would love to be part of the process of helping it grow and become successful.

There’s a synchronicity in Northam—so many things are going on and so many things seem to be ready. We’re one of the first Headspaces to have a Patron Elder in Auntie Kathy.

I’d love to see really strong Indigenous representation here. Another thing I’d love to see is more of a strong youth culture in Northam. There’s no movie theatre, there’s no EB Games, so as a young person where do you go in Northam? On a daily basis I have so many people that come in to Headspace who are filled with so much excitement and potential.

Even where there are challenges going on in their lives, there’s always this sense of possibility. Young people have a really amazing sense of the way things are and the way they should be. That’s why I love working with young people, because the way they are experiencing the world is so different. I can’t imagine what the world will be like for them when they get to my age.

In terms of the most influential people in my life, now that I’ve lost my dad I’ve realised what an influence he was on me. I think I’m finally understanding what he’d been telling me for years. He would always say ‘know your dollar’ and now I realise he meant ‘know your own worth.’ He was someone who had a profound impact on my life and I’m very proud to have been his son.

Another person who has had an impact on my life is Marsha P. Johnson. She was one of the trans women of colour who is often credited with starting the Stonewall uprising in New York. She was an activist and she was murdered for what she believed in. I often feel like I have the legs that I have because of her. Her idea of social justice inspired me so much. She helped me to understand that it’s okay to be part of the system as long as you’re working to make the system better.

More broadly, I’m inspired by the young people I meet and work with because I hold so many stories and so many different faces from all the years I’ve been doing this work. When I think of all the families and all the people who have trusted me, I try to honour those stories every day and try to make them meaningful.

I also think about all the elders who have taken me under their wing and trusted me. They’ve given me so much guidance and have challenged me in so many ways.

Some advice for my fifteen-year-old self…just be you. Stop trying to waste the years of your life trying to be something you think everyone else needs. Be you. Who you are is enough.

Human - Darren Grassick
Interviewer - Shannon Boundry
Photographer - Robert Pampling Photography
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

#wheatbelt #community #inclusion

headspace headspace Northam Headspace Midland LGBTQ LGBT News Shire of Northam Northam, Western Australia

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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

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


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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