28 Aug Emerging leadership
After graduating from high school, Kununurra resident Natasha Short enlisted in the Australian Army Reserves. It was a decision that would ultimately shape the next twenty years of her life, during which time the young mother of two would become a highly sought-after community worker. The choice to serve in the Reserves would also introduce her to a man that would become her husband and the father of her two children.
“Jamie and I met in the Reserves and it was a challenging time. We would often be away from each other for long periods of time…working in the Army challenged me in that way, as well as many others.”
A descendant of the Djaru people, Ms Short describes being in the reserves as a very formative period of her life.
“Working as a ‘Signaller’ requires discipline, focus, and attention to detail for many many hours.”
Since moving on from the Army Reserves, Ms Short has worked for the Department of child Protection, Correction Services and the Department of Education to name a few of her previous professional appointments.
“Whilst the Reserves taught me about the strength of character and perseverance, these various experiences based right around the Kimberley has given me an important insight into the complexity of the challenges facing my people, [Indigenous Australians]…it would help me appreciate the broad variety of problems they face.”
The full-time community worker has lived in Kununurra for most of her life, and it is where she home-schools both her children despite pursuing a busy career.
“If my mother could raise me and my brothers and sisters, as well as work hard for her community, I can too.”
Ms. Short’s mother, Pauline Manning was recently awarded ‘Elder of the Year’ at the EastKimberley Achievement Awards.
“My mother has played a big role in my life, keeping me on track, disciplining me, and encouraging me to make the most of my abilities to serve others,” Ms Short said.
Ms. Short’s involvement in community work has not been limited to the Kimberley. Earlier in 2013 Ms. Short was invited to be a guest speaker at a Women’s conference in Numba, a remote village in Papua New Guinea.
Ms. Short led a group of local indigenous women from the Kimberley to the PNG village which Ms. Short had visited previously on a number of occasions.
“There is something we could all learn about how generous people with very little, could be” Ms. Short said.
“The people of Numba, many of them poor and disadvantaged women…eagerly shared what little they had.”
Natasha currently works for the Wunan Foundation as a Partnerships and ProgramsManager.
“I lived in Halls Creek as a child, and now to go back there as a community worker for Wunan and support programs on the ground is a privilege and makes sense to me. I feel like I have come home.”