In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to Shania Richards who was a Finalist in the 2022 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards for South Australia.
Shania became the first Regional Female Aboriginal Youth Governor of South Australia in 2022. In 2021, she joined the Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation Committee, where she helped create the Youth Justice Bill (Age of Criminal Capability) as assistant manager and main sponsor for debating the bill in the Legislative Council. Shania is currently organising the Youth Parliament Program of 2022 for SA.
Shania was a Finalist in the SA Young Achiever Awards Multicultural Youth South Australia Spirit of Resilience Award.
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Welcome to the inspirational australian’s podcast, where we chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today. Josh Griffin
Now to our weekly dose of inspiration, I’m really happy to be here with Shania Richards, who is a twenty three year old from port Lincoln. And tonight became the first regional female Aboriginal youth governor of South Australia in twenty, twenty two this year. Last year she joined the indigenous affairs and reconciliation committee, where she helped create the youth justice bill the age of criminal capability as assistant manager and main sponsor for debating the bill in the legislative council. She is currently organising the youth parliament program of South Australia for this year as the elected youth governor. So tonight, welcome to the podcast.
Hi, Thank you for having me.
Awesome to have you and has your day going today so far?
Yeah, pretty good. Just doing some like finalisation of our youth pilot program. That is starting on Saturday.
Wow. So yeah, that’s very current this Saturday. So tell us what exactly will happen on Saturday?
Yeah, so on Saturday, all of our households and our regional participants will be arriving on site and will start preparing for our Rosie week. So basically what happens is that the bills that we have wrote with our committees I’ve been working on all year. We’ll Finally be able to debate them and yeah, hopefully make some productive change.
Well, yes, speaking of change, I understand that previously you were involved with a pretty big bill and a massive achievement. Can you walk us through what that was with the age of criminal capability?
Yeah, yeah, so last year I was lucky enough to be to sign up for the program. And I ended up getting put into the Aboriginal affairs and reconciliation committee, which is something I was really passionate about, of course. And being in there I was actually promoted to like, assistant minister and main sponsor of the bill. And the bill that we worked on it was in regards to raising the age of criminal capability. And like a lot of research that we’ve done and all the discussions we had in our committee were around like, you know, the high representation of indigenous incarceration. And how there’s no help for prevention, there’s no help for like when they actually get out and rehabilitation. And it was really, really concerning that this was such a strong issue in that community where we all had experiences within this, or we knew someone that had experience within this. And it was such a wide scope where, you know, just personally, I believe children shouldn’t be put in jail with other criminals when they actually know the consequences of their actions. You know, and sometimes they’re unaware or they have disabilities or they have other issues that they can’t fix themselves. And so they need support and help. But because of the way the system is right now, there isn’t that much out there for people. And even when there is, there’s a lot of shame and stigma about it too. And a lot of people just feel like they have no hope, especially, you know, repeating and getting out of jail. They actually come back and do more criminal activity to get put back in jail because jail feels like home. And it really hurt me growing up that I knew people that felt like that, that they would rather be in jail because at least they cared about them. And that’s not quite fair. And so I was very lucky to actually get with a group of people that had the same vision that I did, and the same morals and beliefs and even just believing in the same ethics of that you know, that someone’s loved one. They should be treated with respect and love, you know, even if they did make a mistake once. And so, yeah, I was lucky enough to go into a chamber and debate that after doing a lot of research and writing it with my peers. And then when I got to debate it, it was really emotional. I didn’t think our reaction so strong and emotionally, but yeah, I feel on I don’t know, it just spoke my heart and my truth and everyone listened. And it was really remarkable because the bill ended up getting passed and both houses. I was lucky enough to be able to debate it in the legislative council. So the Red room, and that was really awesome. And yeah, it got passed on to seeing a government and is actually spin out, but the new attorney general we have, he actually was my mentor that year regarding the bill. And he actually has been addressing the bill and raised it up into senior government this year. And so that was really remarkable. Yeah. Wow.
Hugely powerful change and amazing that I guess topic is so passionate about is really you putting it in front of the right people now. Yeah, and so, you know, I suppose I’m somewhat across politics, but obviously not as much as you know. Yeah. Can you talk us through now now that it’s in that front of that senior government, what are the kind of the next steps for them? ? What do they have to do to, I guess help push that through.
Yeah, so we’ve, we’ve held senior government work that will have to go through the rounds of debating and of course like amending the bill and adjusting it to be, I guess, more realistic for practical use in today’s time, which is a big process in itself. But I’m just happy that we’ve been brought this topic onto attention of senior government. That’s a big thing in itself. And sometimes you, a lot of the change that people try to advocate for doesn’t actually go somewhere. But I have a good feeling that this will actually get the ball rolling and hopefully just it’ll start that topic of discussions with everyday people. Hang on. Is this the right thing that we are doing, or do you make it better? And yeah, it’s really, it’s really well just getting that ball rolling.
Sure. And it’s so true what you said about just getting that into the bit more of a conversation base of people. Hopefully that’s something that people become aware of. And it seems to me that just makes sense, you’re talking about that. Why wouldn’t they make that change?
Yeah, definitely. And because it’s one thing to change a law, but you also have to change the minds of everyone else who follows that law. And so just being able to bring this to people to be able to hang on. Huh. And start that, that question thinking. And yeah, I’m hoping that eventually we’ll be able to see some better programs come out for the outcome and just be able to, you know, be more consider and respectful of the future leaders. Because these Kids are all going to grow up and inherit this world, and it’s not fair that we break them and give them a broken world. So you know what, we just start hearing the intergenerational trauma while we can. And you know, working together is for the greater good. And one thing that I did make sure I kept saying in my speech is that at the end of the day, I might be advocating for indigenous beliefs and indigenous rights. But at the end of the day, I’m also advocating for human rights because no child race, gender, or color or religion, should ever be put into that situation. If we could help it, you know, and it was just really well just to have everyone else have that realization as I was talking to them. Because a lot of people came up to me after the debates and they were like, well, we’ve never thought about that. We had no idea of anything until you talked about it. And it just made sense. It just clicked that. Yeah, we can do something better. And so for me that was really, really that remarkable. That was more than I ever wish I could’ve achieved just to help people have that little moment of clarity. Like, hey huh. There’s something we should be improving together.
Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s amazing. So can I ask, you know, going back a step as opposed? You mentioned the start that last year was your first time being involved with youth parliament. Then obviously to be so involved and have such a massive role in getting that bill through. How did you Initially get involved in the first place?
Yeah, it’s actually quite funny, hasn’t got around around my background as well. I went to University to like to learn how to be Aboriginal to sing right as well. And so I went to work off of that, but then after I came back from Sydney and I went to chef school, I came back to port Lincoln. Just like have a mental health break. I started doing, acting with a local company called patches productions. And it was just like a non-for-profit, like Christian group, where we like to give performances to the community for free. So at the time people, and yes, so we were in rehearsals. And when my friends that I made came up to me as I was doing Kallie, and he was just like, hey, I think you like this program. It’s called youth parliament. And I was like, Oh, if it’s pseudo parliament I won’t be allowed to. He was like, wait, what do you mean? And I was like, well because you know, I’m a woman, I’m not a lawyer of Aboriginal values. All these things that prevent me from standing in that room because you know, no one else has been in that room before me. So why would I be allowed to be there? You know? And then he was like, I think you should just apply. You’ll be amazing. I know you like politics just do it. And I was like, and I’m like, I can’t do that is impossible. Like, I’m not fancy enough. I can’t even talk English properly. Like I don’t even look the part like I can’t, I can’t, I just can’t. And so he was like, Oh okay, fair enough. I mean he left it and then a few weeks passed. It was in rehearsals again. And then him and his partner came up and they’re like, hey, do you think more about youth parliament? And I was just like, yeah, but I can’t like, I can’t afford it. I can’t travel. And they were like, you know what, you should just apply right here. Right now and I was like what, Like, we’re not leaving until you apply. And I was like, okay, fine, I’ll put in the expression of interest as I applied for it. And then a few months passed. They double checked. And how did you, did you do anything? Did you hear anything back yet? And I was like, no, not yet. Okay. Okay. And then I was actually, I’m working on a construction site at that time where I got the email and it was funny, but I had let run back to our little cabin and lots of screaming and dancing because I got in this like, wow, I’m going to be like a real parliamentarian, a real politician. Oh my God. Like a decision maker. And so like I was just so happy and I was happy dozing and then I like message like Dylan and his partner and I was like Thank you so much for like making me apply. Like I never believed I would be allowed to do that.
Shout out to Dylan for persisting but Shout out to you for doing it. That’s awesome. And it sucks that we’re in twenty, twenty two and it’s the first time there’s been a regional female Aboriginal youth governor, but I’m happy for you that you’ve done it that you’ve broken through. And hopefully now There’ll be other people in similar situations who look and say, hey, I’ve done it. Yeah. So maybe I can do it too. Yeah. That’s really cool. Now you mentioned a few things here. I’m just going to quickly touch on it. So you’re into parliament politics. Obviously you’re the youth governor ESA, which is pretty cool. You do acting and dancing school University chef working in construction. Like you’re very multi-talented. It’s amazing.
That’s a, that’s a lot like so many different things like I can’t do any of those things. So that’s pretty cool. What do you think of all those kind of things has been your favorite or that you’d love to throw yourself into whether it’s moving forward or just something you’ve done already?
Oh hey, it’s like all this so it’s like I love of anything and everything. I love being involved just having experiences and going on adventures. But one of my favorite things that I’ve ever got to do Recently was I’m working with the army and doing training with them at national parks. It was amazing because I took like I’m sailing down like these big giant sweaty cliffs and then took us like kayaking around the islands and took us on the boats and it was really cool. Just training with them and I guess learning about what they actually do in the military and I guess overseas where they go on their missions and that was really Magical experience. And I just spun out because I previously kind of saw them all as like these big, scary chewing machines. And that’s all I knew. Like I thought like from the TV shows and movies I looked so scary like, Oh my God, they can kill you. Unicycle if they wanted to, like I was actually getting to know them as like humans and individuals, really spit out who I was like, Oh wow, you have families, you have friends, you have a whole life. You have passions and dreams and hopes, and it made me really, really like, wow, just to see that side of the industry, that it was really incredible just to have the opportunity with the army. And I guess another thing that I was lucky enough to do because I have a secret love of like gaming as well as like I was self and I love, I love a lot of stuff. But I was Recently going to do a first nations virtual reality immersion storytelling lab with the South Australian film Corporation. And so they flew in some experts from London and around the whole place, I guess that was actually like, really, really professionals in the industries with VR and immersion technology and all that stuff. And they came and taught us from scratch, I guess how to make their own VR experience. And it was also because I got to work in like a group that was passionate about the same thing. And I never knew that was something that we could do or explore with because I love gaming, I love technology, I love, I love learning. And it was just so cool that that was a thing because I thought again, you had to have the money. You had the resources, you had to have the connections to even get started to even start dabbling with that stuff. And no, they showed us like how easy it can be now. And I was just like, wow. And so I was working with my concept group that we go and we ended up signing a little contracts to make the first ever Aboriginal horror experience. And it’s going to be like a psychological thriller type of thing. But it’s also like a commentary on mental health and I guess through my experiences and the other boys in the group that when their experiences as well with mental health is something we really wanted to bring into the game that, you know, in the, it’s like innocent gave at first is still a metaphor on how you can achieve the great infinite, I guess, just like following one lives is realising that sometimes when you’re in the darkness, maybe that you are the light that you’ve got to light your way out to get out of your depression or whatever it is, but yeah, it was really cool that we actually got to make that concept. And then we had an investor to actually we had to pitch it to actual investors. And that was really scary. Like, I don’t know why that freaked me out, the boys like I was a shark. And like, Oh, like I never even at all public talking of stuff. I never used to get nervous. And so it was so scary because I was so passionate about it. And I felt like every time I asked the question, I was kind of scared like, Oh my God, they’re not going to like it hate my idea. Then they were like, Oh my God, that’s like, right. Well, how far do you want to go with this? Really Oh Oh, Oh, I don’t know. Oh my gosh. I don’t think you know, like if
you debated a bill in parliament and pitched a game to investors, I think you do a pretty good. They said, what are they? What do you reckon? ? Are some tips on if you have to go into those kind of, you know, scenarios how they’re going about it.
Yeah, definitely. So I guess I, for me like growing up the way I kind of did for me having these opportunities is a luxury. And so when I get offered opportunity, I make sure I put my hand up as much as possible and just be present in that moment because all your worries and all your stresses of yesterday, you know, can be left at the door. When you walk into a new adventure, I could just be fully immersive experience in the moment and it’s really cool, but just being able to have the courage and bravery to put your hand up for something is really awesome. And even if you get knocked back like, you know, at least you try and all you can do is keep trying. And I definitely say like, anything you want to do in life, it’s worth putting your hand up and trying because you’re only going to have this last once. So you better make the best of it while you can, you know, and sometimes don’t, these opportunities come back again. And so you might as well take away ten and just enjoy it fully. Like just make the most out of it. And especially coming out of the covid period and everything like that was a really big, hard time for everyone. And there wasn’t much happening, you know, we felt like we weren’t allowed to do much as well. So now it’s just giving yourself that allowance being, I’m allowed to have this experience with me. I’m allowed to follow my dreams or chase that passion or experience that moment that I wanted to. Definitely
you might have seen me. I was looking away, typing some notes, and I was writing down the timestamp of all these puts. There’s Just a great message in for me. Strange said that, you know, when you get this life once, like, I just think that’s a great message and something we can always remember. Yeah, this is such a great chat because we’re getting so sidetracked, but in the best possible way. Because there’s so much to realize about you. So and I do want to ask, you know, we talked about Dylan and that Dylan was encouraging you get involved with youth parliament and that was awesome. Last year. So this year you’ve been elected as the youth governor. How did that process come about and is that something else that you put your hand up thinking I’m going to just keep this a go?
Yeah, yeah. So again, it was very similar to the Dylan situation. On the second last day we actually had, I was going to, um, I guess nominations, so you put your name in and then you have to give a two minute speech. And then go through the whole interviewing process, I guess. And then I saw that opportunity and I was like, man, I’m not a material counselor. And then again as the friends that I made, you know like that schneider’s name was all over and now you have to apply and I was just like no. But then when it got to the fifth person saying it I was like, Oh my God, this is a side like this is a sign like I have to go do it now like, Oh my gosh. As I write it down to the nomination room like ten minutes before lunch finished, and that’s when nominations got to be sharp. And let’s order form quickly and then I put it in and yeah, from there I’ll have like, make my like speech up. And I did it really I had, I had like early, like not even half hour to do that before the speeches started. And then it was funny because in the speech, okay. I said, what the last sentence I said was like, you know, there has never been a powerful black up because everyone’s scared of a power flap fall. So you know, what else is there to be? No one wants to see a powerful black fellow like me, and then all the Kids I do, I want to say what I want to say. And I was, Oh Oh, Oh no. And then on the last day of parliament, after we finish debates of the day and adjournment, speeches, we had the moment where they call out the youth, governor’s name, and I’ll sit and listen to their speech. And I was like, Oh, that’s sweet. But then I notice like the youth governor kept looking at me and I was like, hang on, why you looking in one direction? Why are you saying these words hang on? ? Hang on, because I was grabbing someone and I was, I started racing. And then he was like, my origins and I busted out crying. I didn’t mean to but it felt like I won the lottery. I was just like sort of crying and like it was like, Oh my God like laughing and like, Oh I hope we get up. And Oh my God, I was just like, shock I was in shock. It was like to me it was like, I was winning the Oscars or a Grammy or something like that. Like it was just like, wow, I Finally get this opportunity to help as much as I want. It was incredible. And so I got up and got to take a photo with the current who the governor is governor at the time, which was Dante and the guy who actually made the whole youth calendar program. So he was like, I’m the first that ever. And it was awesome. Because it was so Magical and historical. And in that moment I couldn’t help but think, you know, my ancestors would be so proud to know that I fought so hard to just get in that room. The sacrifices never went to nothing. And it was just so such a Magical historical moment for me. And I didn’t even realize the impact I had on everyone else just by being myself. Finally and being in that moment. And it was, it was so Magical because I never knew where I belonged. Or what I felt like was my calling into that moment.
Wow, that’s really cool. That was obviously then and been organizing with parliament all year so far. And as you said at the top this, this Saturday, you’re all meeting in person for the first time for the year. So what exactly will happen when you guys all meet up?
Yeah, we just went through the schedule outside at our recent houseless meeting. And so basically the first day the regionals and the leaders will be arriving and the leaders will be going through some training workshops about their roles. So they’ll be like, whips premiers all that stuff. And then on the second day, all the other participants will arrive on the Sunday and then we’ll have a day where we prepare them for how to be in chambers. Would you like a more run through a few more workshops and some more parliamentary, I guess, more intensive workshops about like speech writing and how to be present in the room and how to listen. And then on the Monday will be our first day in chamber. And so was having like the opening ceremony, which I’ll be running and be doing a lot of speeches. And then just like doing all the formal things like welcome everyone into chambers. And yeah, everyone’s getting to Finally have the first debate, which will be like the youth governor’s motion of Public importance, which I wrote, which was very, very interesting because I do a topic about combining like VR, with driver’s license. So you get your driver’s license, you have to go undergo a full simulation before you can actually be eligible to get it. And I guess what older people will have to regrow that simulation to continue driving. If they have like, I guess, an offense where they stop falling asleep, the driver will that be sent back to go to do that test to see what bad habits they have. Yeah. And so that will be there for them to debate first off. And then after that, they’ll have to start debating their own bills. And it’ll be really interesting to see if we have some very, very, very incredible bills this year. And they’re all such broad topics that anyone and everyone can relate to or know someone that had that issue and it was just spin out going through the bills and seeing what’s going to happen. But the year after that, we’re going to have two more days of another day in chamber again, and then we’re going to have a recreational day. So that’s a day where we get to have fun. And we just like do things to like calm down for like the hype of the chambers and get ready for the last few days. And yeah, they’ll just be a whole lot of fun games. And then on the next day, so the Thursday will have the day in chamber again, but then after that we’re going to have a little disco for everyone. So they might dance whatever happens the outcomes. And then on the Friday we’ll have most of the agenda and speeches, and then we’ll have the closing ceremony and the new Year’s governor, two thousand and twenty three will be announced.
And you get to announce that?
Yes, hopefully it’ll be so exciting.
Yeah, so it’ll be the same as last year, but obviously you’ll be the one at this time looking at someone and everything. Yes,
you can also
see, wow, very intense week, but obviously some good fun things thrown in there as well. Sounds amazing.
Yeah. Oh, it’s beautiful and the wonderful thing is that everyone who’s helped organize this has all been volunteers of the program from previous years. And so everyone has a really good experience with being a participant, as well as knowing how to help. And so yes, it’s really awesome, just having that support base with other youth who are also similar minded in the sense that they want to volunteer their time to help give someone else that Magical moment.
Yeah, for sure. So that’s obviously all happening very soon and something else that happened very Recently. Obviously we had Natal Kuwait Natal quake, which reminds me, I had my notes here for my intro, but I got thrown off a little bit because I noticed a little bit of a microphone issue. Initially when we joined the call and I had to shut the call down, it’s not a backup again, but I had meant to acknowledge that I’m recording actually one around country today in Victoria. And so I wanted to ask you as well where you’re recording from because I know port Lincoln is a regional area and some people may not know where that is in South Australia.
Yeah. So yeah, I’m calling it colour yellow, which is the native word for port Lincoln and it’s bungalow country.
And speaking of narok you’ve actually Recently won an award. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah. Oh so that was also quite an experience. I was lucky enough to win the Kenyan country award, which was very spit out, but as I said earlier, I was doing some construction. I was actually a cultural heritage monitor and consultant. And so I would go out and make sure that the sacred sites make sure that protecting the environment, and that if they come across any artefacts, or bones or remnants of my culture and history of that tribe in the area, then that they have to be respectful to the archeologists and do all that stuff properly. And so yes, we’re basically holding big corporations accountable in that sense of you can’t just destroy the land for your production and then expect it to be okay. Because there’s rules and there’s things and there’s stuff in that area that you might not be aware of and bad things can happen to you if you go and desecrate something. And so we want to make sure you’re doing it right and safe and protected to that sense. And so yeah, that was very, that was a very intense experience, of course. And yeah, it was very interesting that they noticed that I was helping that sense because again, I’m very passionate about protecting the country and the land. Because if we don’t look after it, how can we hand it over to the next custodians and the future generations? And so yeah, that was very, very interesting that I was allowed to engage in that with that situation and work with that. And it was spin out that promoters like other people noticed that I was doing that.
What are, what would be some of the main risks in terms of your, your role there in protecting the land and care of the country? Like you mentioned the corporations. Is it the mining companies or the other things going on there that that is a danger? Yeah,
yeah, so again, it really depends on what region and the timing of projects and whatnot. But in that particular project, it was in regards to them building a power line across South Australia. So from port Augusta down to port Lincoln, that building was big on power lines that was going to interact with native title holders land that was just giving back to the people. And then instead of like, you know, being respectful about it, they were just like, Oh, we need to build this. And that’s why, you know, there’s no signs of negotiations. And so then we had all negotiate and try and work out a better form of them. Just destroying and desecrating things. And so yeah, this situation came out of it, but it was very, is very hard for me to even understand that. That’s a thing like they should be respect, no paths all over the country everywhere because that is someone’s home, you know? And it’s just been out that, Yeah, there’s companies that go around thinking that money can buy everyone money’s going to fix the problem. Because the way that art was taught growing up, you can’t take money to the grave. Like, you know, like, that’s just silly. And so, yeah, it really hurt me to see the way people around Australia and the guests from different tribes that I belong to. The different ways they handled their costumes, depending on the monetary value, really affected me because there was some people who would sell out. And like let corporations destroy sacred sites and destroy these protected lands because of money. And it didn’t feel right. And so yeah I did it, I didn’t mean to, but I wanted to be involved doing the right thing. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, it sounds like it’s Super important, but it’s also like really tricky.
Yeah. Very touchy. Yeah. And because everyone has different attitudes about it, and it was very interesting incident that happened on site, we had one of the big, big bosses come on the site. And he was the one who wrote all the wrote all the protocols for this programme. He came onto the site, he wasn’t wearing any gear, he walked up in an unmarked car, and he started walking behind all this big, heavy machineries. And then he walked into the sacred woman’s site. And you know, men, business men are allowed to walk into one sock and sacred woman spots because of reasons and yeah, he walked in there and he was taking photos and everything about it. And everything he was doing was everything. He said no one else was allowed to do like in the rulebook, but then he was allowed to do it. And then it was really annoying, but then I got really upset. She went and called him out on it. It was like, you know, you can’t do that, you’re going to get sick, like fall away. What you just done is like, you know, punishable like something’s got to punish you. Now you’re going to feel that negative energy coming because you’ve done wrong to a sacred site and he was like, Oh, I’m not religious, I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe any of that. And well, then why are we here? Like if you don’t believe in Aboriginal culture then you know what I mean. And so that really hurt me and offended them as well. And seeing that attitude was really not on. And this wasn’t cool and then it got even a bit more worse. So like you got really sexist because I was like, well, I live on site and those hates us. I’ve met creepy old men and it just wasn’t really suitable to like, you know, it wasn’t respectful at all and it really upset me because like there was nothing like I talked to my superiors about everything that was happening and no one ever got back to me and then they just stopped me shifts because they thought that I was a and then that really made me feel no good, but then to get a big award about it and get, you know, all this praise for doing trying to do something, made me feel a lot better because I felt like such a failure, like I felt like I failed my ancestors and I failed the country and that I felt like I failed the next generations. But then getting that award, they were just like, it was great. You even did that like the grounds and I was just like, wow, like Thank you. Like I thought I was nothing in that situation. And so to have that and to realize other allies to that do want to do the right thing really made me like have hope. Yes, just for humanity. Like it was only that one percent that was being silly because they must have been compliant or something. But there’s everyone else that really willing to change and together. Yes. Like can give me hope again, to keep up the good fight and just make sure that what we’re doing is right and that the next generations won’t have to struggle the way we did.
Yeah, sounds like a really hard situation, but yeah, that’s great that you got that recognition for standing up because that that was the hardest thing to do. Would have been much easier to just let it slide.
yeah. But we love awards so much because it does share those. You know, it’s not always about something happy, a happy achievement. It’s a hard that was actually a pretty. Like you said, you felt the time you hadn’t done the right thing, but you obviously you had. Yeah, so that’s why we love awards and obviously I didn’t mention at the top that you were a finalist in the spirit Super connected communities award out of the young achiever was for South Australia. And yeah, how was that experience for you? ? And you know, going to the awards night and all of that.
Oh, it was awesome. I was actually, I’m fortunate I was able to make it fully. It was not because I traveled different and sickness of course. But I really, really, really, really was so happy that and that I saw that I got to what I knew then somehow, and it was spit out because like it was people that I’ve met randomly on these opportunities. And they got the opportunity to be in this as well. And it was so Magical and I was just so happy. And in particular with the award that I was nominated for. It was so cool but the fellow who actually won, he was all my best friends if follow last year.
. Really. Just like well, when we saw we got nominated together who I Oh my God. Well you did it and it was so cool. And so supportive because we’ll just like whoever wins at least you are well representing, we’re doing it, we did it. And we both had similar mental health struggles that we talked about last year. A lot too. It was just so empowering, just to see that we can support each other and continuously, no matter what. And that we’re glad to. And that was also, and that was so Magical. And I just love that whole journey of being able to support and learn about others achievements so that we’re able to look out for each other and helping each other wherever we go on our last journey. And I really, really love that whole experience. It was Magical and even just the way like, I guess how the announcements about idol stuff too was really cool because you’re a lot better in anticipation because you’re like, Oh, who did it? Here’s what can I support? ? Oh my God. Oh, it was beautiful. I loved it, it was so Magical, and I’m just so happy that someone nominated before and like, took the time to say that I was a part of those people that wanted to do change and wanted to do good. So that was Magical.
Sure, that’s what we always charge people if they say, Oh, I’m not sure if I should nominate them because what if they don’t win the award? Yeah. And we always say, well, this so many reasons to nominate them. Regardless, does it matter if they’re the winner or not? And as you said, it is causing people’s names. And I think that’s one thing that really encouraged me the most is that I’ve noticed a big shift in the last year. I’ve worked at this company for eight years and people now really are supporting one another. Whereas previous it was a bit more like, I’m a this, I’m going to do it. I try and win the award I want to win it. But now it seems like it’s actually taken a turn that people are supporting each other and realising that hey, we’re in this together. If one of us wins, then we’re going to support you and celebrate you.
Yeah, definitely, yes. So beautiful. I’m so happy that like now the attitude because I just broke in the era where everyone was like, competing for each other and competing for things. And it was so scared because I didn’t like it. And I’m not really competitive in that way. But in that time everyone else started hating me because of all the awards I was getting at school and stuff. And so I was picked on for being like a nerd. And I was bullied a lot because I was getting these opportunities and whatnot. And now as an adult is so Magical to see that flipped on its head and be like, Oh yes, we can support each other and it’s so beautiful that we have that connection now. And especially like everything that can go wrong that happened in life is like you’re very lucky to be able to like break up and braid sometimes and just be able to wake up and just being able to wake up knowing that, you know, other people that you have helped on their journey and Yeah. Magical experience.
Speaking of your you know growing up Mike. Right. And saying that you didn’t grow up in Portland.
Oh yes I kind of grew up between port Lincoln kalgoorlie and
esperance. Okay. Yeah. And so, yeah. What was that experience like moving between? I suppose they were all regional locations.
Yeah. I like to say there was anything wrong with my childhood, but that’s kind of a lie. There was a lot that was really hard and I guess um we weren’t you know, raped or anything. Um, well not even really that stable, I guess as like how families should be, I guess in that sense. And um, it was really hard because we kind of stayed in port Lincoln. I also grew up between boykin and kalgoorlie up and down the nullarbor all the time. But um, kind of slowed down and put in a time where two brothers were born. And then my mum and my little sister and then mum and dad kind of like broke up and it got really messy with like mental health. So my dad was like incarcerated wrongly and then um he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. And so that was really hard because he basically was like chucked in the system and he was like lost and they didn’t know anything was wrong properly until the check his check do all that check out stuff. And so that was weird because dad just went missing, was all that we knew. And mum after a while she ran away with those two back across the border to esperance that to stay. But she wasn’t in the best state of mind either. And she was very suicidal. And so I kind of had a lot of so a lot of like suicide attempts at a lot of stuff and I was very young younger than the age of eight. And I didn’t know that what was happening was it? No, you know, I just knew that I had a, it’s second parent and pick up where things went wrong. And yeah, so that, that led to a lot of issues because at school I had no friends at all. I was very scared and jumpy and just really nervous and didn’t know at the time, but like, yeah, I kind of like Self-Sabotage myself a lot because I didn’t know that I was allowed to be a kid, you know. And that all the other Kids I thought they were stupid because I worried about kid shit, but really I should have been allowed to be a kid to that. And so it was really weird, but yeah, I always took up more responsibilities that I should have. And so yeah, after that mom you
grow up real quick for the sounds of it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I had siblings and I knew that for me to be able to sacrifice my childhood to give them one was worth it. And so yeah, I made sure I did everything I could have my siblings so I could have a good life and not have those memories that I may have. And yeah, it was apparently like my school psychologist said, it’s not fair what happened, but I’m grateful it did because I would not be who I am today. If I didn’t go through what I went through. Yes. Unfortunately, Molly had to get institutionalized because I kept calling the police on her because I kept finding her dead. And so the police, they just held her in the mental institutions and whatnot, until she was better, I guess. But then when that time we were going to be taken by welfare as well, going to be split up, but then I run away my siblings until I found my, my auntie. And then I begged them to take us in. Basically I was, you know, well, so it’s going to split us up and I couldn’t, I don’t want my children, my siblings to get split. And so yeah, I’m not begging them to take us in and then we’re going to try for a bit. But then my aunt and then we yeah, that was a whole nother thing because we were with her when she died and the Kids, you know, it was just such a bad situation because she went to the doctors for help. And they were being racist and said, Oh panadol. And so they sent her home panadol and she died. And then the endless Shania came and then we had a of rushed to hospital by that time. Because like mom and dad would go on at that time, the only other person was me and I was a kid like bananas withdrawal. My aunt, you were drunk, cousins, highs and their partners were drunk. And so I couldn’t do nothing at all. None of us could go it wasn’t something we had the luxury to afford. She’d go of course about. And of course it was only at
the time, so like, yeah, it was, it shouldn’t have been your responsibility.
Yeah. And so we had to carry onto the car and took her to the hospital and I had to sit at the house with all the Kids by myself and try and calm them down. Kids were freaking me out. And so I tried to distract them with games, and I did that a lot like I tried to distract people with like fun things so that I had to worry about bad things. Yes, so that was unfortunate, but then they came back a few hours later and just by looking at their face, I knew it was bad news and the Kids didn’t understand where auntie went or where mum went. And so that was very hard to try and help make them understand by that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had of my life is to try and help Kids understand grief. And I was a kid myself like I shouldn’t even know. And it was hard, but yeah, after that I guess mum ended up being able to come back from mental institutions and she took us in again after all of that. And mum try the hardest from there on to be like the best mum ever she was, she was like the greatest Super mother that could ever be. But Joe, there’s so much we only have so much support systems, resources in place, and we all, we’re still very hurting about that death. And that was really traumatizing. And I guess that was like the main traumatic thing that happened until I was a adult. But then another thing that was really weird when I was at work all, I got one my biggest rolls ever like the day that I got my biggest role and then we done the first like screen script reading. I’ve got that call. Sorry, this is cool. And so it turned out the other auntie that helped us through all that, I mean, she passed away as well. Right on that day and I was just completely grief stricken. Yeah. And I just, I couldn’t, I felt like we just lost the other one. So yes, and it was just really, really hard because I had to leave University go straight back home for that service and stuff and it just, it really, really hurt. But that those moments really did define me because even thought I would not come back to it. Everyone thought I would just go back and, you know, be sad and go back drinking and start abusing drugs and shit. But no after I couldn’t drive back to uni, but I was push push through the pain. That makes sense because in a way that anything that has happened, you know, you can easily get swallowed by grief. But again, it takes another person to get back up and use that very familiar Launchpad. And I guess that’s what I do. I didn’t realise I do it, but I met with a recent mentor this year with book self after I published a poetry book. And then he told me that I had a lot what do you mean he was like, you like to you like to Terraform trauma into infinite possibilities and I was just like, Oh Oh Oh Reggie I do what I do you realize that but yeah, no matter what has happened in my little life? I, I always try to bounce back because I’ve always been told to be strong for everyone else, but I really do just like try and be strong, not just for me, but for others as well. Because, you know, we really got this little love and we can’t spend it being sad about things without change anymore. And so you should look for things that you can change, you know, like also experiences. Yeah.
Well, you say this little life, but wow, you’ve experienced so much in twenty three years. And I think what I meant to say it was right, it’s your superpower taking on these experiences. That would be too much for some people. And somehow just creating these possibilities and certainly listening to your stories motivated me and inspired me to get to know that whatever you go through, you can actually come out and still reach really great heights afterwards.
Oh wow. So yeah. What an amazing experience you’ve had, and obviously where you are now is amazing. Can I ask you what you know, going through everything that you’ve gone through? What is it that inspires you?
Yeah. Well, definitely like for me it’s the people that helped me through everything. So for example, I made fuel that kept me going from our childhood, was for my siblings. And for my cousins and my nieces and nephews, I knew that if I didn’t do something that could help them. If I didn’t show them the way that they might get lost, like I was lost, so I didn’t have anyone to show me the way. So yeah, I just like I really, really, I don’t mean to say that, but I really, really pushing myself to be someone to help others in the sense that I want to be someone that I never had growing up. I guess that’s kind of my fuel to keep going.
Well, the last thing I wanted to touch on before we wrap up is because you told me off air that you watched this show growing up that you watched behind the news. Recently you featured on an episode of that. Yeah, I have like, perfect. You know, you just sang about being somebody that others I suppose Ken can say and you know, this is almost full circle. You are a now on this show that you watched growing up. So how did that all happen and what was the episode about?
Yeah, so I was also, I was actually able to do some work experience with BTN this year or earlier this year. And they flew me out for two weeks and I got to work on set with them and do some things like they let me take over the tick tock. That was really fun. And then I got to do some script writing and filming, and editing, and even some acting with them. And that was fabulous. And then after that, they said they said, you know, anytime in the city, just come back and I can work with them. And I was like, Oh well that’s awesome. Like, Oh, I love making friends of everyone. And then this year after same year, sorry. But this period after I just won the award, one of the friends I made contacted me and they were like, hey, are you busy? And I was like, no why they’re like, Oh are you doing anything like do you mind if we interview you for a segment and I was like, Oh sure, that’d be fun and they’re like, so do Natal, is that okay, and I was like yeah, of course also they’re like okay, and then they write me up the other day and we had like a zoom call and I got to talk about my and she’s also like, Oh my great friends, what else was she so fun. And it was awesome because like we don’t do like the interviews, but like with his best friends talking, it was really awesome. And I loved it and it was funny. And then she told me to watch at six o’clock that night and I was like okay, so like me and my partner, we like sat down and we got to watch like the newsbreak episode, finaid.org. And Oh my gosh, like I was there for like, a whole like, minute on that segment. And I was like, Oh, well and like, it made me like stop crying because I was just like, like, I feel like you watch BGN again, but I’m on
- But you
got this me, you are like wow, Oh and it just made me feel like a little celebrity. I was just like well like much like though like I felt like my inner child was like being like Oh my God, there’s my hero. Oh Oh Oh I loved it. There it was so sweet and I’m just so grateful that they like, Oh they done that.
Yeah, that’s awesome. So you know, if people want to connect with you and follow kind of your journey and see these cool little things that you keep experiencing and getting to be part of which is amazing. Yeah. Where can they kind of connect you with you? I should say, Oh,
I still have everything in social media, so like if I’m your Facebook, if I’m your Instagram, if I’m your LinkedIn, if I’m you on tik. Tok, Evan. I do like gaming stuff online. You will find me on Twitch. I do what I do, right stuff. Yeah. So if you just like maybe even go to my name, something will pop up.
That’s awesome. So yeah, lady and I Richard is how I I think I found you on Instagram. So tell me about something that that tag a little bit, you know, with lady with that where that come from. That’s really cool. Um, so
my partner, he has a lot of Scottish inheritance and so we won the first paychecks I got from construction. I brought him some Lambda in Scotland and over there the rule is if you buy a piece of land, you automatically become a lady or Lord. And I was just like, Oh my God with loads of ladies there. And that was like his, our first anniversary present for me to him. That’s
amazing. I love it. Well, yeah, definitely. You sound very royal. That’s for sure. You know, you know, that’s cool. So yeah, it was, it was an absolute pleasure. Speaking with you Super great chat, and I think if anyone wanted to read a bit more than the article I mentioned earlier, was on smashed of dot com that are you. And you can just look up again. Shania Richards and smashed up. And I was like, yeah, I don’t mind me playing that because I just think that gives people extra context and I think you’re so interesting that people will want to find out more. So yeah, it was great to have you as a finalist in the young achiever awards and and great to chat with you today.
Thank you. It’s been awesome.
Cheers. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed that interview. If you liked it or any of our other episodes, it would be great if you can write and review the inspirational australian’s podcast. It really helps us out if someone you know, needs a little dose of inspiration. Why not let them know about this podcast? And if you haven’t already, make sure you’re subscribed, so that you won’t miss an episode. Join us each week as we talk with ordinary Australians, Achieving extraordinary things. You can always head to our website at awards, Australia dot com slash podcast for more information and details on each guest. Now before we go, I’d like to Thank Annette our producer. Here’s a fun fact. Annette is my mum and our other host, Jeff is my dad. This podcast is brought to you by awards, Australia, a family owned business that proudly uncovers the stories of people who make a difference for others. We can only do this with the support of our corporate and not for profit partners as they make our rewards programs possible. So do you know someone making a difference? If you’d like to recommend someone to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch through our Instagram page, inspirational Australians, or maybe your business might like to sponsor the podcast or get involved with the awards. We run head to our website awards, Australia dot com for more details until next week. Stay safe and remember together we make a difference.
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