My name is Melinda Shekle nee DeGois. My family are the Morrisons from Katanning, with me being born and bred in Perth.
In year 12 I attended the year 12 Seminar. At that stage I was still unsure as to what I wanted to do after I left school. I graduated from high school in 1993 but my TEE score wasn’t quite enough to get me into university, so I sat a test with the School of Indigenous Studies (SIS) and was accepted into the Aboriginal Orientation Course in 1994. This was such a great course which gave me an insight into tertiary education as well as the opportunity to live on a remote Indigenous community for a week which involved my first ever plane trip.
I completed the Orientation Course which gave me entry to a Bachelor of Science degree the following year. During that first year of study, I received a cadetship with the then Department of Employment Education and Training (DEET). This meant that I was now on a wage (a bit more than ABSTUDY), had assistance with my HECS and books, a mentor at work and employment during the Christmas break.
While studying at UWA, SIS provided me with tutors and mentors which helped me immensely through my degree. In 1998 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Psychology. My grades weren’t quite good enough to get into the Bachelor of Psychology which I needed to complete to become a Psychologist, but I was encouraged to apply for the Aboriginal intake the following year. In the meantime, DEET offered me full time employment which I gladly accepted.
Being used to earning a fulltime wage, I never ended up returning to study and 16 years later I am still employed by DEET, now the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). I am currently a Contract Manager for a Job Services Australia Provider whose main role is to find jobs for the unemployed. My provider operates in a number of locations around the Perth metropolitan area, but also provides services in the Wheatbelt, Kalgoorlie and surrounds. I am particularly enjoying this job as my provider is contracted to provide employment services to remote Indigenous communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands as well as the Tjuntjuntjarra Community. I have had the privilege to accompany my provider and to witness firsthand the good work they are doing in these communities, which I find very rewarding.
Through the support and assistance I have been given by SIS, I was accepted into university and able to complete a degree, as well as obtain fulltime employment. This made it possible for me to buy a car, own my own home, and I was able to take long service leave from work to travel around the world for five months.