Born in Streaky Bay, I was raised on a farm at Calca with my Mum, Dad and three brothers. Growing up on the Eyre Peninsula, where we have beautiful surroundings and great people to connect with, I feel we are privileged with a richness that is hard to find.
I attended Streaky Bay Area School and after completing year 12 I relocated to Adelaide to study a Bachelor of Visual Art and Applied Design. The arts have always been a passion of mine and it quickly became clear to me that not only did I want to be inspired, but I especially wanted to inspire others. After travelling to Europe and Asia, I completed a Masters of Education and began teaching visual arts, design and photography to middle and senior school students. The opportunities to travel, and moving to Adelaide to study, were experiences that have helped shape who I am today; however, my desire has always been to return to the Eyre Peninsula.
Prior to moving to Port Lincoln with my husband Ryan in 2013, I had the pleasure of teaching at Cowell Area School for three years. From 2013 I taught at St Joseph’s School, until our son, Mase, was born in 2016. Connection, collaboration, and the motto, ‘Aspire to Inspire’ have always been driving forces for me.
Assisting and empowering others in their growth and development is a rewarding experience and an essential ingredient of success for future generations, which is why I enjoy teaching, and being involved in community groups and events. In 2014, I entered the Tunarama Ambassador Quest and raised funds for West Coast Youth and Community Support.
Working with young adults, teamed with the heart-breaking events experienced by loved ones, I found the stigma involved with mental illness was very real. I had seen anxiety and depression impact friends’ lives, triggered by illness, accidents, drug use, gambling addiction and low self-esteem. I had also lost two friends to suicide.
I thought it was likely the majority of people could relate to what I seeing as at the time it was documented that one million people in Australia lived with depression, and figures indicated the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 was suicide. Sadly, these statistics are still valid.
The funds I raised assisted WCYCS in appointing Kirsty Traeger as a community development officer, and this was when Mentally Fit EP was born. Mentally Fit EP was created to provide a strategic forum and service coordination conduit. The purpose has been achieved via programs related to mental wellness promotion, stigma reduction, the delivery of ‘Take charge of Your Life’ courses, and other initiatives.
Since Mentally Fit EP’s inception I played an active role on the committee, and in November 2017, I was appointed as community development officer. My role offers the opportunity to utilise my strengths and passions in the hope of making a difference.
I have the opportunity to assist and empower others from varying ages and backgrounds to live well and will continue to work towards reducing the stigma around mental illness and help seeking. My hope for our region is that mental health receives more attention and funding so residents are able to live mentally fit lifestyles and when life’s hurdles do arrive we have the skills and, when needed, services to respond.