Mishel McMahon

In her own words

I am a Yorta Yorta woman and currently work at La Trobe's Shepparton campus on Yorta Yorta Country. I grew up part of a large family working and playing outside, but always struggled to learn at school. Very unsure of myself I began as an undergraduate student in 2006 at La Trobe in Bendigo studying Social Work. At this time, I was living in community housing as a sole parent with four young children at home.

Studying at the kitchen table with the kids is a great memory; then they would go to their school and I would go to mine.

In my final year, while in a disagreement with my lecturer, she challenged me to apply for my honours. I applied and got in. I completed my honours, asking, ‘How can social work be informed by Indigenous knowledges?’ The Bendigo La Trobe Social Work team were amazing; they sent me to the Indigenous Methodologies Masterclass through NIRAKN to help me complete my research from an Indigenous perspective.

After graduating, I started work at Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative as a social worker, where I stayed for two years. It was during this time that I received a letter saying I had received H1 for my honours and inviting me to apply for my PhD with an Australian Postgraduate Award.

I began my PhD in 2012, my study aimed to reveal, position and emancipate Indigenous Australian discourses on child rearing as an alternate but equal body of knowledge to Western childhood development theories. The intent is to strengthen and legitimise Australian First Nations child-rearing knowledges about childhood.

In December 2017, I submitted my PhD to be examined and recently submitted a final copy to La Trobe Graduate Research School.

In March 2019, I won the inaugural Aboriginal Researcher award at the Victorian Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research.

My four kids have left home, and I am now a nanna to two granddaughters and a grandson. I have bought a little weatherboard right on the river at Elmore and hope to have lots of family visiting. I also hope to continue working at La Trobe, supporting Indigenous students, being involved in First Nations Research and embedding First Nations perspectives in curriculum.