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’ve been in Bruce Rock for eighteen months, but I grew up in Warnbro and Rockingham. When I came to the Wheatbelt in 2017, initially I moved to Kulin to start a job with Camp Kulin. I had been involved with the camp since 2013 in a volunteer role.

I used to be involved in community theatre in Kwinana and a lady I knew worked there as the marketing manager. She became the CEO of the Global Good Foundation, which helps to prevent domestic violence toward women and children and we did a number of performances including one at Government House in front of the Governor General. I was very lucky in that I got into the theatre as a young child, it certainly shaped who I am as an adult.

Dad was in the navy for twenty-one years and Mum started teaching high school in 2003 when I was about six. This culminated in me being very open-minded. One day when I was about eighteen my mum told me, ‘you know if you’re gay you can tell me, right?’ I told her I was really sorry to disappoint her by being heterosexual. She went on to say she wished she had a gay son she could go shopping with, and I turned it around and said, ‘what’s the difference between that and shopping with your heterosexual daughter?’ I have a younger sister who is two-and-a-half years younger than me, so she’s twenty-one next week.

Mum was raised Catholic and Dad was raised Anglican, but they’re very much about letting us choose what we want to be. I went to Friday night youth group at the local church when I was young, but I went because it was fun.

The youth pastors were amazing which I think made me want to work with kids. It lit a spark in me. The pastors were brilliant in that—yes it was a little bit about Jesus and God—but more importantly about being part of a community.

I started volunteering with Camp Kulin in 2013 when I turned sixteen. I volunteered there for four years, by which time I had finished school. I did a year of uni, but I wasn’t loving it. I loved the course and all the people at university but going back to studying didn’t really sit right with me at the time. A job opportunity came up at Camp Kulin I applied and was lucky enough to get an interview. A day after the job interview, I got a call saying, ‘you’ve got the job – can you start in a week?’

Within a week I’d move three hours away to Kulin, without a driver’s license, and I started the job on Monday morning. I worked there for two years until my contract came up, but I wanted to do something different, so I did cleaning and bar work at the Rec Centre in Kulin for a while.

A traineeship in Bruce Rock came up in 2019, so I applied for it and thankfully got it. The biggest thing that drew me to the Bruce Rock CRC was that they had a lot of youth programs here. I finished my traineeship in June 2020 which gave me a Certificate III in Business. The fact that I want to continue working with kids has motivated me to do more study. I’ve done some work at the school here helping students to learn team-building skills. My next aim is to do a Diploma in Youth Work. It’s just a piece of paper, but sometimes that piece of paper can speak louder than anything I could say.

One of my best moments was when I was in school and we got to travel to Manila in the Philippines to work with the communities there. They were so caring and so outwardly expressive of their emotions.

One of the main reasons I love working with tween and young teenage kids goes back to when I was still volunteering at Camp Kulin. I had a kid who wanted to go down the slide but was absolutely terrified of heights. It was the last day of the camp and I asked him whether he wanted me to go on the slide with him. He was shaking the whole way and we sat at the first platform for about twenty minutes. Another boy offered to help him up to the next platform and eventually they made it to the top together. It just melts your heart. My worst moment was when I had to leave my job in Kulin. It was such a beautiful program, but it weighed on my heart so much.

My piece of advice for young people is ‘don’t stay in one place and don’t become stagnant.’ There is so much out in the world that you’ll never experience if you don’t try. Take the step.

Human - Maddie Earle-Sadler
Inteviewer & photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project celebrating inclusion in the Wheatbelt community.

Bruce Rock, Western Australia Shire of Bruce Rock Bruce Rock Community Resource Centre Bruce Rock P&C Linkwest Bruce Rock Camp Kulin Global Good Foundation

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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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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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