NEGOTIATING with the state leader, serving on multiple boards and councils and helping people with disabilities save lives: it’s all in a day’s work for Melissa Northcott.
The 29-year-old from Seville Grove has been championing the rights of people with disabilities for more than 10 years and has just been nominated for the Western Australian of the Year Youth Award.
“I was shocked, humbled and obviously wasn’t expecting it, especially when I was told I was in the youth category because I’m approaching 30,” Ms Northcott said.
“Knowing the calibre of the awards, I was very humbled.”
The Count Me In ambassador previously negotiated with the former premier for improved accessibility at Elizabeth Quay and the installation of safety barriers at Perth Arena.
She is now developing a business plan at St John Ambulance for people with disabilities to learn first aid and her ultimate aim is to have a disability-focused program nationally.
“Just because you might not be able to physically get down on the ground to assist somebody, you can still talk somebody else through how to do CPR or treat somebody who is injured,” Ms Northcott said.
“People with disabilities can learn and participate and teach first aid and help save a life, it just might be in a different way.”
Born prematurely at 24 weeks with Stickler syndrome, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing impairments, and complications, Ms Northcott is a passionate advocate for improving accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
“If you are seen, you know people with disability can do. If you are heard, you can create change,” Ms Northcott said.
She credits the Girl Guides and her work at St John for helping her develop her leadership skills and confidence.
“I wouldn’t be here today as driven, outspoken or passionate if it wasn’t for the support of so many,” she said.
She gave a special shout out to Larraine Kell, who was her Year 3 teacher at Willandra Primary School in Seville Grove.
Celebrate WA chairman Michael Anghie said the awards were the highest honour for West Australians.
“These awards recognise people making positive contributions to WA that we all ultimately benefit from and which truly deserve to be publicly acknowledged and celebrated,” Mr Anghie said.
The finalists for the 2017 Western Australian of the Year Awards are 27 outstanding West Australians who demonstrate excellence in their field and make a positive contribution to our community.
There are seven categories; Aboriginal, Arts & Culture, Business, Community, Professions, Sport and Youth. The overall Western Australian of the Year is selected from the seven category winners.
The winners will be announced on Friday, June 2.