School of Indigenous Studies

Melinda Shekle


UWA Science Graduate Melinda Shekle 

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.