STEPS student speaks at Reconciliation Day

It was Reconciliation Day in regional Queensland town Atherton, and the community filled a local café and people spilled out into the street, listening through open windows.

As part of the morning’s presentations, community Elders, business owners and Mayor Joe Paronella listened to a speech by STEPS Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program student Kaylene Malthouse.

But just weeks before, Kaylene felt the burden of a fear of public speaking.

“She said people don’t often think she would have a fear due to her big natured personality,” STEPS SEE trainer Candice Buckland said.

“But she was quite tearful as she said her lack of confidence and ability to speak in public has been holding her back from doing things in the community that she really wanted to do.”

Kaylene said speaking at community events like Reconciliation Day meant a lot to her and her family.

“I am heavily involved in the Indigenous community and uplifting the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal community,” Kaylene said.

“It was important to show the whole of community that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island people have good values and can contribute good things to the community.”

“My friends and family were absolutely blown away that we could have an event that shows our diversity but builds our community.”

“Gives us an insight into each other’s lives even if it is just for a moment. We were blended as a community and it was very nice.”

Candice said part of the program that prepares students for work asks participants to reflect on physical and mental barriers that they feel hold them back from achieving their goals.

The trainers then work closely with the students to build confidence, come up with action plans, create visualisation boards, and build a list of personal goals.

“One of Kaylene’s goals was to speak at Reconciliation Day,” Candice said.

“This involved drafting a speech, editing it, finalising it and then practicing it in front of the class. The class gave Kaylene feedback on everything from her stance, to her projection and the content of her speech.”

Kaylene said she loved that her entire class showed up to support her on the day.

“It felt really good to be a role model to them and to show them we can do anything we put our minds to,” she said.

“There are lots of people that are of Indigenous background in our class. The non-Indigenous people are so supportive and I would like to see the greater community operate as we do in this class.”

The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

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