“I haven’t looked back. I just needed someone to give me a chance…”| Michelle’s Story
By Interchange Australia Marketing Coordinator Ainslie Hiebert
It was obvious from the very first time I saw her that she belonged on the stage. I first met Michelle at a drama workshop day that Interchange was running as a weekend activity. She was in hot pink from head to toe, and acted her way through a challenging and hilarious improvised skit with ease. I watched on as she brought the slightly more timid actors and actresses to life, always encouraging others to give it a go and be their best. It’s not often that you meet someone who is able to do that to a whole room full of people, just simply by being themselves.
The next time I saw Michelle was at a band practice. Most artists are only comfortable in one genre, but Michelle was rocking out to some ACDC, then some old rock classics and some Allanis Morisset. The band has such a colourful group of personalities in it, and the most valuable skill of a band member even moreso than their musical ability is the ability to keep the morale of the group up and encourgae others. That way the band is a group of people practicing their skills but also having so much fun together. Michelle has had lots of opportunities to perform since joining the Interchange band, and she has never ceased to amaze her audience. She starred as a guest performer at the Rock the Houses Day Options music event in 2020, RockCan, RockCan on screen, as well as various others. In the latter part of 2020 the band was working on filming a number of music videos to be part of the RockCan show after RockCan 2020 was cancelled becasuse of Covid-19. It’s fair to say that this was a mammoth effort for all involved, and doing live recordings was a new kind of pressure that our band had never experienced before. It was more important than ever to be encouraging to one another, and patient as we had to do numerous takes of each song, as well as a lot of fiddling with the sound tech. Michelle and all of the band members rose to the challenge, and despite a lot of pressure, was able to produce something which they should all be very proud of.
I remember vividly the conversation I had at band practice with Michelle about our Steps to Success program. Anyone who meets her would know that she has a lot of talent both on and off the stage. But on this particular day we were talking about life off the stage. Over the years she has found that navigating employment through the NDIS has been difficult and often the opportunitues available weren’t ones that really allowed her to use her skills and talents. When I told her that she could study hospitality at TAFE so that she could learn the skills she needed to be able to work in a café, the only way I can describe it is that her face literally did light up. Being the intelligent, friendly and smiley person that she is, it was easy for me to see that she would really suit a customer service role in hospitality, but as she later told me “I’d been holding myself back… I thought I was too old for this and I didn’t know there were any other options out there”.
So she signed herself up to TAFE, and when I later asked her how it was going she said “I love it. Thank you for putting me there, I haven’t looked back. I just needed someone to give me a chance at something new”. She says the program is really well run, and caters well to the varied needs of the class. “I feel so much hope knowing that Interchange can help me find a job in a field I enjoy, and I can’t wait to be able to save some money to spend on my son. Thank you to Interchange for helping me make my own dreams come true”.