Name: Melanie Kiwi (“like the fruit” she said).
Born and raised: On New Zealands North Island in Tauranga. Barwon Heads.
I don’t think many people would think working for the dole would actually help to motivate a person.
However for Melanie it was time spent working on environmental projects such as tree planting and laying branches on sand dunes around the Bellarine Peninsula through a Centrelink program which she said gave her some get up and go.
While Melanie – also called a mozzie because of her maori background and aussie upbringing – had thought about becoming a flight attendant in her earlier years at school by her late teens she was boy crazy and without direction.
“I didn’t have any goals at that age,” she said.
After a year out of school spent working for the dole and in cash paying hospitality jobs Melanie began time working in offices – first for a physiotherapy group, then for State Trustees in Melbourne.
At around 22 she came back to Barwon Heads and did “odd jobs” before once again heading to Melbourne where she got a job at AON as a team assistant – a position she said did not involve enough work to keep her busy, but which she made more fulfilling by undertaking tasks outside her job description.
In 2007 Melanie made the decision to head to Western Australia with her boyfriend at the time and work in the mines.
Melanie found work after three months in the state but her boyfriend took much longer.
“I was willing to do anything,” she said.
Life at the mines was different, according to Melanie, and busy.
“You worked 12 hour shifts,” she said.
“There’s not much time in the day to do much.”
Melanie said in years gone by others had seen the mines as a place where they could drink freely and take drugs.
However by the time Melanie made it there all employees were subject to breath tests before they started work for the day and were subject to random drug tests as well.
After a time working in the mines in WA Melanie and her boyfriend went their separate ways.
By that time she had fully immersed herself in her new lifestyle and decided to make her way to another mine where she knew a number of people.
This was to be her last stop in WA.
It was here she met the father of her son Eligah, now five.
It wasn’t a fairy tale encounter.
Eligah’s father said he had an ex-wife and kids.
The wife was not an ex.
“A lot of men lie in the mines I found,” Melanie said.
Melanie stayed at the mines, pregnant, for another seven months before making her way back to Victoria and Barwon Heads to re-establish a life for herself and her baby in town after she had sold anything she had to move to WA.
Now, far from her boy-crazy days when she was about to finish school, Melanie is focused on her son and is proud of the life she’s forged, all on her own.
“I’ve got where I am today on my own, just through life experience,” she said.