New life for a ‘tough nut’

Shayne Walters proudly displays her Tough Nut award.
Shayne Walters proudly displays her Tough Nut award.

The now 20-year-old grew up watching her mum abuse drugs and took up the highly addictive habit. She too became a regular user.

Seven years on, Shayne works as a receptionist at the Apprentice and Traineeship Company and has completed a business administration program.

She has been clean for four years.

‘I grew up using drugs; I used to be in the same position as my mum growing up,’ Shayne said. ‘It wasn’t until my dad got sick and I became his full-time carer that I stopped and I haven’t touched them since.’

Shayne said her father left the family when she was small because of her mother’s drug abuse.

He left Queensland after hearing that her mother had abandoned her and her two brothers.

‘Soon after he arrived he was diagnosed with cancer and I cared for him until the day he died.’

Shayne was then aged 16.

She said it was a tough time for her, having rebuilt the father-daughter relationship she had lost out on.

‘My life was transformed when dad came over,’ she said.

‘Him coming over was the reason I gave up drugs, he taught me to be great and get out of it.’

Despite all the hardships, Shayne graduated from high school, cared for her younger brother while dealing with finalising her father’s estate and arranging her tenancy at the age of 17.

She also went to the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus, spoke with a representative about possible training in the area and became involved in the Apprentice and Traineeship Company.

ATC Business College trainer Dee Dee Boutwell said Shayne was an important team member, dedicated to her work and turning her life around.

‘She is such a bright star, ATC hired Shayne as a receptionist and she has been working successfully for three years with the company as a highly valued employee who, in three years, only missed one day for being sick,’ Ms Boutwell said.

‘Shayne is an exceptional young lady and we are proud to have her as a trainee.’

Miss Walters said the award had given her confidence to move forward, never look back, and she hoped one day to achieve her dream of owning a business and becoming a mentor for teens experiencing similar situations.

‘I’d love to get into mentoring at some stage, but I’m thinking I’m a little too young at this stage to be giving out advice to people who are around the same.

‘Maybe later when I have a little more life experience,’ she said.

‘I’m still shocked about the whole award thing and I get excited every time I think about it.

‘I’ve never won anything before.

‘I’ve never had anyone tell me I’m doing good or anything like that, so to have been nominated for this award makes me proud of what I’ve done.

‘I think the only thing that drives me to succeed is to better myself at all times and be the best that I can.

‘I want to be the one person in my family to go somewhere in life and be proud of what I’ve done, however I still have a long way to go.’