My name is Rishelle Hume AM and I am a proud Noongar woman with traditional ties to the Whadjuk, Ballardong and Gnaala Karla Booja peoples and a mother of three children. I am the direct descendent and granddaughter of the highly respected Noongar Wadjuk Elders, Patrick and Lorna Hume who spent their lives tirelessly promoting Aboriginal rights and their Noongar culture.
Like my grandparents, I have devoted my working life to the advancement of Aboriginal people and my Noongar culture.
As a young person I remember lining up for food vouchers on many occasions and being reliant on hand outs from others. However, with the encouragement of my grandparents, family and friends, I learnt how to identify and embrace the opportunities that were presented to me, including the importance of gaining a quality education. The greatest inspiration in my life has been my grandparents.
They were both heavily involved in the advancement of Aboriginal people in the late 1970’s and 80’s, which was a time where Aboriginal people had to fight for every basic human right from health care, equal employment opportunities, education and housing to name a few. I grew up watching my grandparents spending their lives promoting Aboriginal rights and Noongar culture within both government departments and the wider community. Because of their positive influence on me, I have been driven to enhance and improve opportunities for Aboriginal people in all areas within the community. I strive to keep their legacy alive and to ensure Aboriginal people have a voice.
I have over 25 years’ experience in Aboriginal engagement ranging from employment, education and justice to health. In 2000 I decided I wanted to further my education, so I completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a Double Major in Human Resource Management which led me to my current role as A/Aboriginal Employment Manager with Chevron Australia. I am part of a team that is dedicated to boosting Aboriginal participation by investing in long-term education, employment and business development opportunities. Every day, we work with community leaders, traditional owners, schools and training providers to create education pathways resulting in employment opportunities for the next generation of Australian Aboriginals.
Outside of my full-time employment, I am married and a mother of three beautiful children. My biggest achievement and ultimate inspiration for everything I do is my family.
My culture defines who I am and has been the primary influence on this journey I am on. I have a responsibility to make a difference for my people as an Aboriginal leader; the social and moral obligation that comes with community leadership is life-long. Those who lead, who have authority, must care for and look after those who come behind.
I have a real passion and focus on helping grow leadership capabilities for Aboriginal women through the Western Australian Aboriginal Leadership Institute. I am working alongside Robyn Smith-Walley towards expanding and developing other programs such as governance, financial literacy, youth programs and men’s programs. Effective leadership is fundamental in helping achieve a better future for Aboriginal people.
We need to foster and nurture a new generation of Aboriginal leaders. We need to grow Aboriginal leadership capabilities so that we can create a future for my people where we no longer talk about “closing the gap” because there is no gap to close.
My advice is that you can do anything you set your mind to. Believe in yourself and have the vision, passion and dedication to make a difference. Keep your eye on the destination, stay determined always, remain confident and adapt along the way, as there are and will be many obstacles and road blocks that challenge you. Match your vision with something you are passionate about. Something that keeps you engaged every moment of everyday, to bring you one step closer to the success that you desire.
I also strongly believe that it is important to surround yourself with the thinkers, doers and believers and most importantly with people that see greatness in you, when you sometimes don’t see it in yourself. We all need to take accountability to build on and progress positive changes within the community for Aboriginal people. We need to create a shared future, with hope, optimism and purpose. I hope you will walk with me and have the courage to make a difference for the better. We can all do this together!