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Denice Kickett | Self-confidence | An exciting journey

Denice Kickett (nee Wilkes) (Muuminbulah Wilyak)Denice tells an uplifting story of her passion for indigenous inclusion in the workplace, how she gained her confidence, and the powerful influence of her mother. Football gets a mention too!

I am a proud Darbulyung Wadjuk Yorgah from Perth WA, an active participant in cultural renewal, an advocate for human rights. I believe in equality for all walks of life.

My motivation is to work for companies that work towards closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancies through indigenous inclusion in the workforce.

I am a member of the Oxfam Straight Talk National Steering committee. It assists women in developing effective lobbying techniques to parliamentarians and in networking with their local MPs.

I am a very keen promoter of cultural respect. I have a desire to share my knowledge and understanding of my culture with those who are interested. I am also very enthusiastic about learning about other people's cultures as it gives me a greater understanding of people's diverse lifestyles and the best ways to communicate.

My journey in life so far has been very exciting. I come from a large family of nine children. I was lucky enough that during my early teenage years my mother allowed me to live with my older sister in Geraldton, Derby and Broome. I then moved back home to Perth with my mother where I completed a Business Diploma with Edwards Secretarial College.

I met my future husband when I was 16 and I was blessed with my first child when I was 17; my son was born at King Edward Memorial Hospital Subiaco (1984). (Most western cultures would think that this is very young to have a child and settle down, however having children young has been a part of Nyoongar culture for many hundreds of years.)

I went to the United States (California) with a company called Middar when I was 19, almost 20, as a cultural role model promoting Aboriginal Culture. My immediate family played a big part in my participating in this opportunity. The love and cultural support they gave me made me feel very confident knowing that my son was in good hands. On my return from California, I got married at the end of that year (1987).

My husband and I then moved to South Australia where he was given the opportunity to play Aussie Rules Football at the elite level for Central Districts in Adelaide. This is where I had my second child: my daughter was born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide (1988). My husband’s football career was starting to escalate and he got recruited to play for North Melbourne (Kangaroos) Victorian Football League, so we then moved to Victoria in 1989.

I started to develop my own individual confidence that I somehow found from within. My life was all a new experience for me. I was hardly seeing my husband due to his football commitments, I had no family around and I was raising two children in a different state.

I gathered my confidence, remembering that if I could get on a plane and go to the USA by myself then I could tackle anything. I visited a local Aboriginal organisation, introduced myself and enquired about all their services as well as enrolling my children into crèche (day-care). I got my first job in Melbourne working as a public servant for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) as a registry officer.

Due to my punctuality and commitment to my work in the registry office I was offered a Traineeship as a Project Officer. Then a couple of years later I became the Women’s Issues Officer. At this time DAA merged with the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) and became the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

The experience and knowledge that I gained working in the public service really opened my eyes to a whole new world and empowered my confidence even more. I had my last child in Victoria: my son was born in Melbourne at the Mercy Hospital.

My husband and I lived in the Eastern States for 17 years during which time he excelled at his career in football and I excelled in the Indigenous Affairs arena. During our years in the Eastern States, my husband and I also went on a holiday for 3 weeks throughout Europe taking in the sites of Paris, Germany, London and Ireland. Having the experience of visiting other countries gave me more understanding of the diverseness of the world.

My confidence also led me into a pathway of Performing Arts during my time in the East. I got to perform on stage and television with some very well known actors, as well as singing and doing stand up routines in front of thousands of people from different cultural backgrounds.

My husband finished his football career with the Sydney Swans (AFL) in 1996.

We celebrated our 25th Wedding anniversary last year. I now have 2 grandchildren that give me more love and confidence to thrive from.

Rather than go through a whole résumé of what I have done, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to give you a little background of my life story.

Before I go I need to mention my mother who is the biggest influence of every decision that I make, and even though she has passed on now her legacy and influences in my life still live with me. My mother was the one who gave me the strength, love, knowledge and drive on "How to walk in the World" and that is with "Confidence".

Reader Comments (5)

A great story from a strong noongar yorgah, who is a special friend of mine. DK, over the years you have taught me a lot about Aboriginal cultural, perople and places. Well done sistergirl, love your work!! Nic
Thu 14 Feb, 13 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Merson

I always found you inspirational even in Primary school, you stood up for me when no one else would and because of that I have and never will forget you.

You are destined for great things and complete happiness for yourself and your family x
Thu 14 Feb, 13 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterLinda Munro
It is wonderful and an honour to have you as one of our featured women Denice, thank you for sharing your story so honestly and taking us inside your life in a way that gives the rest of us confidence to keep on striving to be our best.

Much love to you and your family, and may your confidence keep shining.
Thu 14 Feb, 13 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRachel Green
Denice is the one who stuck up for me when I was under the thumb at work not so long ago. We worked closely together to create some great events. We struck a deal that I would take care of the white fellas, and she took care of her people. What a team! She always insists that I be my best, authentic self, and I have achieved this ever since. A couple of years ago, Denice was the one who asked Kevin Rudd, at a large event discussing Social Inclusion full of influential people, "What would Indigenous inclusion look like?". She has kept her mob and all of us who live on the fringes included and inspired, and on the agenda. The funny, and generous heart of this woman makes for a real gem of a friend, and we are all fortunate to know her and to have worked with her.
Fri 15 Feb, 13 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterKristine Phlipp
Denice taught me so much, shared her culture and encouraged me to speak and stand up for our mob too. You are an inspiration to us all DK and I've continued to strive for the best here in the east!
Mon 18 Feb, 13 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobynne White

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