Yirgjhilya Lawrie

Yirgjhilya Lawrie

Did something specific inspire you to join the program?

I had never really thought of the University of Melbourne as an option to work or study at, I thought they’d have nothing to offer me. However, when I saw MIPEP come up, it sounded like a great opportunity and I thought how good to have the University on my resume. When I first signed up, I didn’t really know the specifics, but I thought let’s just try it out. The program has opened so many doors, I’m only ten months into this program and look at what I’ve achieved since joining.

How do you feel like you’ve adjusted to work life at the University?

Most of my working life I’ve done music, specifically back up singing for people. After I took a break from music, I got a traineeship with Film Victoria for a year.

Moving to higher education from state government is very different, but the good relationship I have with my mentor, fellow cohort members, the safe space that Murrup Barak provides and my experience in my previous traineeship have all helped me adjust a lot.

What are your biggest learnings so far?

My first placement in Legal and Risk helped me solidify future career goals and develop the skills and knowledge that will help me to do a lot of great things in my community. I’ve discovered I have a knack for advocacy, reading through legislation, simplifying processes and a general interest in the legal field – I’m very proud I’ve been able to identify that. I feel like now I’m at the point where I can give back and I’m on the right track to do so.

After I was named 2019 Vic Miss NAIDOC, I became more myself and I realized that there’s a big community behind me ready to support, so what’s left to lose? At work, it boosted my confidence and made me more passionate about my connection to Community and my career choices.

What do you think has been your highlight so far?

For the 2019 Professional Staff Conference, I coordinated and presented a presentation on an ‘Aboriginal Women’s perspective in the workplace titled “Hear Us” alongside two of my fellow MIPEP cohort members. We shared our truth, our stories, what has worked and what hasn’t worked for us. I’m so proud to be a part of something like this, using our strengths like public speaking, sharing funny stories and just having a conversation in a safe environment free of judgement. We gave the presentation our everything, so much so that afterwards we were exhausted. Through this experience at the University, I realised my passion for diversity and inclusion. It’s important to me that everyone is given a voice, treated fairly and given their time to shine.

Being with the cohort is also a highlight, we all bonded immediately on the first day of the interview process. Everyone has made my experience at the University so much better knowing we all have someone we can lean on and someone to meet up with – even outside of work.