Ashlea shrugs off ‘shame’

Miss NAIDOC Perth finalist and Wirrpanda Foundation Deadly Sista Girlz program mentor Ashlea Walley. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d419285
Miss NAIDOC Perth finalist and Wirrpanda Foundation Deadly Sista Girlz program mentor Ashlea Walley. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d419285

The leadership and empowerment program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women culminates in the Miss NAIDOC Perth Crowning, held during Reconciliation Week each year in Perth.

The Wirrpanda Foundation mentor and program co-ordination for the Deadly Sista Girlz Program said she thought entering would be an amazing way to represent her culture, people and family.

‘I would be honoured and humbled to have the chance to share our incredible indigenous journey to the whole community and really try and make a difference in improving the education and health outcomes of our people and also changing the main-stream stereotyping and negative attitudes towards indigenous Australians,’ she said.

The 22-year-old, whose heritage links with the Noongar and Yamitji people, said having worked closely with young girls she had learnt about the ‘shame’ carried among many women in her culture and wanted to create positive change so that others like her could take the opportunities afforded to her.

‘The ‘shame’ factor plays a big part in our culture and being good at something or wanting to put yourself out there isn’t always seen as a good thing,’ she said.

‘I would really like to think that by entering this competition, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls in our community will see that putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone can really be a positive thing and can open up so many doors and opportunities.

‘I would like to think it would help encourage other younger girls to just ‘have a go’ and that having confidence in yourself can lead to amazing things.’

Miss Walley said role models like Cathy Freeman and her Nanna Walley were people she always aspired to.

Now she hopes to do the same for others.

‘Cathy Freeman was a stand-out role model for me and my Nanna Walley,’ she said.

‘She has been through so much loss and grief in her life yet she still seems to keep pushing through those hard times whilst keeping our family together ” her strength is truly inspiring.’

The Miss NAIDOC final will be held on Saturday, May 24, at the Perth Concert Hall.