KAYLA Michael is a step closer to her teenage dream.
The 20-year-old mother-of-two from Kelmscott has been nominated for Miss NAIDOC Perth, in between assisting archaeologists in the bush and speaking out to help other mothers with post-natal depression.
“I’ve always wanted to do it since I was younger,” Ms Michael said. “This year I was like ‘yep, I’m definitely doing it’.”
Miss NAIDOC Perth is a leadership and empowerment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 18 to 30.
The Kelmscott mum’s main motivation for entering this year’s competition is to raise awareness of depression some new mothers face after the birth of their baby.
“I guess it was like, with my son, this is a life-changing experience,” she said. “And then when I didn’t have a connection with him when he was born, and I was seeing everyone else have their connections with their babies, I was like ‘what’s going on?’.
“It’s a tough one. I wish there was something else that could make it a bit easier on mothers that go through that.
“I know there’s a lot of girls out there that find it hard to say they’re going through that, just because in our community people aren’t really aware of it that much.
“People say you’re going through a rough time, but they don’t really know how it feels.
“It feels horrible.”
Ms Michael said people told her many things about how to combat her post-natal depression, but it was her kids and family that pulled her through.
“My nanna said ‘you need your son in your life’,” she said. “She gave me so much advice and she made me feel like I could do it.
“She gave me so much strength.”
The preparation for the competition has included leadership workshops, a photo shoot and a cultural day, something Ms Michael particularly enjoyed.
“I really loved it,” she said. “Listening about our ancestors, I felt really connected.”
It’s this connection that Ms Michael builds on with her work, when she helps archaeologists check sites in the Jarrahdale area.
“When they want to come and build on our land, they get the people from that land to walk through the bush first and check if there’s any heritage sites,” she said.
“I’m really an outdoor sort of person; there’s a lot of spiders and snakes and stuff, but when you’re walking through, I guess you just don’t care anymore.
“It just feels good.”
Ms Michael said winning the competition would be a big accomplishment for her.
“With the post-natal depression, I was building up all these walls around me and trying to stay away from a lot of people,” she said. “Now I feel like I’m more confident and I think I would be a good leader within this community.”
Miss NAIDOC Perth will be crowned at a gala event at Crown Casino on Saturday.