“My career highlight is knowing the work I do makes an impact in the community and being recognised for that. My role is extremely rewarding, and I get a real sense of fulfillment here. To come into work and know that what you’re doing has meaning, well, you can’t ask for more than that.”
Shaquille was born and raised in Western Australia and attended Gilmore College under the Clontarf Community college program – a co-educational Aboriginal college for indigenous youth. He has worked various jobs since the age of 13 including a stint as a professional dancer and choreographer, performing at the Sydney Opera House in 2015. One of six children and growing up in a challenging environment, Shaquille was determined to make a difference in his own life and in the lives of others and is now an Indigenous Connections Coordinator with atWork Australia.
Shaquille graduated from college in 2017 and started full-time work immediately as a labourer at the Henderson Wharf. His swift employment was aided by the Clontarf Foundation, an Aboriginal program for young boys to help them get through school, build self-esteem and confidence and find employment.
“I would sometimes be working 13 days straight without a break, but I showed I was reliable and hard-working. I was eventually offered work as an apprentice Boilermaker, but I soon decided I wanted to do more with my career and have a job with real purpose,” says Shaquille.
At the age of 19, after taking a sabbatical and struggling to find his true calling, Shaquille applied for multiple apprenticeships in business administration. He then commenced with Woodside Energy on a business administration traineeship.
During this time, Shaquille discovered the power of his voice and his innate ability to command the room. He was asked to speak publicly around issues of inequality and discrimination at a Black Lives Matter event and various other local community awareness days.
By the time he was 20, Shaquille had acquired a good business acumen and important communication and people skills that would soon set him up for a fulfilling career helping others.
After seeing his mum struggle with disability, Shaquille applied for the role of DES Job Coach for atWork Australia in 2020 and was successful.
“My mum has multiple permanent disabilities. She had gone through the Disability Employment Services system and really struggled. I got to experience first-hand the type of service they provided, and I knew then that I wanted to play a part in making things better,” says Shaquille.
Due to his ongoing career progression, Shaqille has now been appointed as Indigenous Connections Coordinator with atWork Australia, a very important role helping First Nations people through a range of targeted initiatives, programs and pathways to employment.
The challenges for me are always around how I can make the most impact in my role. Right now, it’s about growing this indigenous program into a system and a process that will best develop our clients and give them the best service possible. For me, being an Aboriginal man, I care a lot about my community. I want the program to be a success.
I’m also proud to wear the atWork Australia logo. Working here has changed my life and I am grateful for the opportunities. I’m in a situation now where I can give back to the program at an operational level and hopefully help as many people as possible.
I am genuinely motivated by our work in the community and the difference we are making every day. But I am also young, hungry, and wanting to continue to grow my own career. I am motivated by my past. It’s been a difficult time for our family. We were a single mum family with six siblings – we were poor, but my mother always hustled to ensure we had what we needed. I want to change that path for my family moving forward, be successful and provide for my family.
The highlight for me is knowing the work I do makes an impact in the community and being recognised for that. Sometimes you can work hard but wonder whether it’s actually achieving anything. But my role is extremely rewarding, and I get a real sense of fulfillment. To come into work and know that what you’re doing has meaning, well, you can’t ask for more than that.