‘I’ve got to say I’ve been very fortunate with a lot of the kids I’ve had over the years. They’ve said to me, “Miss, you’ve always just been there. In our broken English, in our horrible writing, you’ve just been there. You’re stable. You’re with us. You listen to all our sob stories and all our successes.”
‘Even if it’s minor, I’m there; with them. I think they just need that one person that brings them stability at school – that one person they can go to. Someone who is willing to listen. That makes a difference to somebody’s life.
‘We run a homework centre at school that started for ESL kids only then opened up to everyone. We advocated to get more assistance because there was such a need. The kids just know you’re there. They know you’re going to listen.’
‘If you’re not there, they’ll hunt you down and drag you there! We are hunted!’
‘I’ve always had depression from when I was young. I think it came about from my family life. My dad was not a nice person. I’m not in contact with him anymore. He got deported back to England. He did something super serious.
‘It’s taken me a long time to get through it and as you get older there are issues. When you’re younger you didn’t have to face these issues but when you get older it’s a new issue and a new part of that problem that you never had to deal with. I guess I’m OK.’
If you give advice to fathers out there from a daughter’s perspective, what would it be?
‘Listen to them and look after them. Don’t hurt them. A father plays a huge role in a child’s life. I’ve seen kids go through the same thing where they’ve got fathers that haven’t been there for them enough or haven’t focused on them at all or have treated them in a certain way because they’re not a boy. You just really have to focus. You don’t understand how that impact of your dad really destroys you. Your family upbringing is a huge thing. If your father’s not around it destroys a lot.’
‘I’ve always loved writing stories and I’ve always been drawn towards fantastical stories and comedy. When I grew up I used to get quite frustrated with television because I didn’t see many female characters in the shows I used to watch. I write children’s television shows and I got to a point about a year ago when I had this opportunity to write and I just thought, it’s perfect – maybe I can help make a change – to try to even the playing field.
‘You don’t tend to see a lot of female main characters or even sub-characters on television. The shows tend to be about boy characters that are really great and fantastic and save the day. If it is a girl, they’re usually a sister or they’re in trouble or a bit of a sidekick.
‘It means that young girls don’t learn to see themselves as potential heroes. They think that adventures and journeys are for boys and that they’re maybe supposed to be the sidekicks. If you grow up seeing that message over and over again it must have some sort of impact on you.’
Did you have someone in your life that encouraged you to do what you want to do?
‘I have an awesome mother and also a super awesome grandmother. They’re both very strong women. My mother was a single mum – she’s a poet now. My grandmother was an actress, a director and a model before most women even had jobs. She was one of the first women on television back in Adelaide. I grew up around them and because I was exposed to women like that I never really doubted that I could do the same thing. There are a lot of girls that don’t have that growing up. It’s amazing how much just one role model can change that.’
What advice would you give to young girls?
‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what it is that you love. It’s probably unlikely that people will give you that positive message so you’re going to have to discover the courage within yourself to believe that.’
‘A few years ago I completely stopped watching TV and stuffing my brain with all this stuff I don’t need to worry about and stuff the media throws at you. After I completely stopped watching TV, reading newspapers and everything, just every day I’ll go home and it will be quiet. I’ll maybe put on a bit of music and I’ll pick up a pencil or some clay and start doing something rather than being brain dead in front of a TV. I’ve found in the last few years I’ve really opened creatively. I made a glass bridge last week with a mirror underneath it so it looks like you’re standing on infinity. It’s crazy. I like playing with stuff and illusions and things sort of optically – brain fuckery! A little bit of brain fuckery never goes astray!’
‘My friend took his own life about 3½ years ago. That was really sad – it was a hard thing to go through. We were really close. We were supposed to actually hang out the day he did it but our plans got cancelled.
‘I was completely shocked. I didn’t think he’d actually ever do it. He talked to me about it. I was trying to help him through it a bit so I felt a bit responsible and a bit guilty but that passes. Things happen and people have talked to me about it so I feel a lot better now but yeah, just completely shocked.’
If you could go back in time, what would you say to him?
‘I would probably go over there and hang out with him that day and tell him how many people cared about him and that we miss him and that it would be different without him there because it’s definitely different.’
What would be your message to other people who may have friends in a similar situation?
‘Make sure you’re there for them and don’t take it lightly. Even if you don’t think they’re serious, just talk to them about it. They’re obviously doing it for a reason. They need someone to be there for them. Either way you have to make sure you’re there.’
‘I’m a visual artist who’s not doing a lot at the moment because the art scene is a bit dead.’
‘I’m a lawyer working in tax law.’
What do you like most about him?
‘His art and he’s got style.’
What’s the nicest thing she’s ever done for you?
‘Looked after me – we’ve been together over 30 years.’
What’s been your biggest challenge as a couple?
‘Oh, we’ve had a few problems over the years. I guess dealing with me – it’s not easy being an artist. It’s a very hard profession. In your twenties, it’s kind of exciting but as you get older and if you haven’t become famous, it gets harder and harder to keep carrying on. Everyone I know has problems. Everyone in their twenties thinks they’re going to be famous and have this fabulous lifestyle but it doesn’t work out that way for 99% of people.’
What would be your message to young artists starting out?