Diploma of Children’s Services
2014 Victorian Koori Student of the Year
Finalist 2014 Australian Training Awards
My career journey has been a great experience. While it has been challenging at times, when I look back it has been very rewarding. When I reflect on my childhood and the strong influences I have had around me I think first of my mother, Merika, an Noongar women from Western Australia who started taking care of her friend’s children while they went to work. Really, she had started her own family day care center without realizing because of her love for helping others and love for children!
My grandparents, Norman and Shirley Hayward were very respected Noongar elders from Collie, in the South West suburbs of Perth. In their time as foster parents, they looked after over 120 Aboriginal children – mainly their brother and sister’s children, so that they would avoid going into the system and forgotten about. As a child, my holidays were spent around kids from everywhere and so many of my cousins. I would learn about my heritage, culture and love for others.
At 11, I lost my father suddenly to cancer. He was a hard worker and also loved and helped anyone in need. During this time I hated school and as the years went by and I got to year 10, I think I averaged about 30 days of school each year.
After school I had had many jobs over the years – but none I really liked. As a single mother of one, I just kind of did what I had to do to survive. In 2006 I met my partner Clinton and moved from Western Australia to Shepparton in Victoria and went on to have two more children.
It was soon after my second child that I was offered a job at Lullas Children and Family Centre Aboriginal Corporation as the Amalgamation Officer to amalgamate Lidge Macs Childcare and Batdja Preschool together. At the end of six months I was offered a position as the Director the centre! That was eight years ago, and I have loved every minute of it! The challenges, the families, the staff, every bit of it. It is true what they say, when you find a job that you love it is the best feeling to come to work every day.
In 2014 I enrolled in a Diploma of Early Years at GOTafe, Shepparton to formalise my on the job training. That year, eight staff from Lullas, including myself, all graduated together. It was the best feeling standing up there with my staff - a very proud moment as a boss, friend and for the community. These women were strong Aboriginal women succeeding and doing a job they love just like me.
That year I was also nominated for the 2014 Koori Student of the Year – a category of the Victorian Training Awards. I could not believe it when they announced me as the winner in front of my family and friends. It was really special. I knew that couldn’t have done it without the support of my staff and the families, and children of Lullas.
Then in November that year as a winner at the state awards, I was given the opportunity to go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards in Adelaide. This experience was amazing. I got to spend time with all the individual winners from Victoria. I also got to know the Indigenous winners from all the other states and territories – and that was really wonderful. I got to know how inspiring they are and what amazing work we are all doing to make a difference across the country.
This year I have begun my Bachelor of Early Years to become a kindergarten teacher. I love this new challenge I have set for myself! It has also been great to be involved in the Victorian Training Awards again this year as a judge to help and encourage the next Koori Student of the Year towards making a difference in their life, community and Victoria.