Stu­dent of year turns life around

Broome Advertiser - - Front Page - Jakeb Wad­dell

Few can say they’ve had a year as good as Soleil White, but it hasn’t al­ways been a bed of roses for the young mum, who made a de­ci­sion one year ago to turn her life around.

The 24-year-old was re­cently named the na­tion’s Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der stu­dent of the year at the Aus­tralian Train­ing Awards, just one month af­ter win­ning the State ver­sion of the ac­co­lade.

Miss White’s suc­cess came about af­ter com­plet­ing an indige­nous health­care course last year, a pro­gram she now refers to as “lifechang­ing”.

The young worker’s pow­er­ful story be­gan when she fin­ished her school­ing in 2012.

“Af­ter I grad­u­ated high school I moved to Syd­ney for three years to pur­sue a ca­reer in dance,” she said.

“I ended up fall­ing preg­nant, so my part­ner Ses and I de­cided to come back home to Broome and be with fam­ily to raise our child here.

“Af­ter hav­ing my baby Eliona, I found my­self in a not-so-good sit­u­a­tion — I was liv­ing in an over­crowded house with my sis­ter and her fam­ily, I had no plan, no skills be­cause I went to do dance so there was no job I could just step into.

“Then my daugh­ter got sick (with) an ill­ness that could have been pre­vented and that was my break­ing point. I re­alised that I was just fall­ing into a statis­tic and a stereo­type of what an Abo­rig­i­nal woman does af­ter hav­ing a baby.

“I knew I had to turn my life around and make some­thing of my­self.”

Miss White did just that when she reg­is­tered for the Cer­tifi­cate IV in Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Pri­mary Health Care Prac­tice course at Kim­ber­ley Abo­rig­i­nal Med­i­cal Ser­vice.

“As soon as I started the course, it reignited the pas­sion that I have to help peo­ple that I had grow­ing up,” she said.

“I didn’t even have the ed­u­ca­tion about my daugh­ter’s ill­ness and there are so many oth­ers out there who also wouldn’t know these vi­tal things, so now I’ve got this burn­ing mo­ti­va­tion to help peo­ple where I can.

“My goal now is bridg­ing the gap be­tween Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and non-indige­nous peo­ple.

“We have a life ex­pectancy that is so many years apart and to me, that is just not go­ing to cut it.

“I don’t want a short life and I don’t want my daugh­ter and her gen­er­a­tion hav­ing a short life.”

It was Miss White’s fo­cus and de­sire that led to her win­ning her State and na­tional awards in the past two months, but she said this was only the begin­ning for her.

Now work­ing as a Broome Re­gional Abo­rig­i­nal Med­i­cal Ser­vice health worker and com­plet­ing her Diploma of Nurse at the Univer­sity of Notre Dame Aus­tralia Broome cam­pus, Miss White hopes even­tu­ally to be­come a re­mote nurse to con­tinue help­ing peo­ple who are in sit­u­a­tions like hers.

Now I’ve got this burn­ing mo­ti­va­tion to help peo­ple where I can. Soleil White

Pic­ture: Jakeb Wad­dell

Broome's Soleil White was­named Aus­tralian Train­ing Awards Abo­rig­i­nal/Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der stu­dent of the year re­cently.

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