GEGAC Dental team members Dr Gary Nowrungsah, Destiny Harrison, Judy-Anne Alexander and Claudia Hodge. Photo: Jake Lynch/GEGAC
Life is all about sliding doors, don’t you reckon?
One thing happens, one decision, and it sets you down one pathway through life, rather than another.
Life. Choices. Pathways.
For Destiny Harrison, that sliding doors moment happened midway through last year.
In 2020 Destiny had enrolled in a Certificate III in Dental Assisting at RMIT and began a school-based traineeship, the first steps she hoped would lead her to the career in Dentistry she had been thinking about since she was a kid.
“Dental had always been my passion,” Destiny says. “I don’t know why. Right from when I was little, I’d always wanted to do this.”
Like many young mob connected to GEGAC, Destiny has memories of being around the place as a kid.
And those memories were of going to the dentist.
“When I was little, I loved going to the dentist.”
That’s not something you hear every day.
“Aunty Sarah was there. She’d let me play with the suction, it was fun.”
Aunty Sarah was Sarah Baxter. Back then, Sarah was the Dental Practice Manager.
Those early memories would prove to be formative experiences for Destiny, and her career ambition was to one day become a Dentist.
But the study wasn’t going well.
Destiny says she wasn’t enjoying the Cert III course at RMIT, and as the only Aboriginal student in the class she felt isolated, and sometimes disparaged.
She failed the course, and didn’t complete the traineeship.
It was a fork in the road moment, the sliding door.
And once again, “Aunty Sarah” would play a pivotal role in helping young Destiny see a way forward.
Sarah, herself, had received the guiding words of an Elder when she was young, reminding her of the great significance of a career at GEGAC, the history of the place, and the positive impact she could have on her community.
Years later, Sarah would have that same conversation with Destiny.
“Aunty Sarah inspired me,” Destiny says. “After I failed, she came up to the house. She said ‘you can’t quit.’ She motivated me to go back and try again.”
Josh Tuiono was another of the GEGAC leaders that urged Destiny not to give up.
“Josh had a lot to say – he really wanted to me to finish the certificate. He wouldn’t let me fail,” Destiny says. “I could tell he wanted me to reach my limit. He pushed me to pick myself up and give it another try.”
And so she did. She went back to RMIT, and she completed that Cert III course.
What had changed, the second time around?
“I felt changed,” Destiny said. “I had knowledge. I was confident.”
She attributes a lot of that knowledge and confidence to her teammates in dental, and other GEGAC staff that have supported and encouraged her.
“Josh was a massive support for me, both times I was trying to complete the course.”
“And also JA, Gary, Claudia, Lynda, Tammy, Josh, Sash, Karthi…”
It’s a long list of names, and evidence of how GEGAC mob get around their own.
“This place feels like home,” Destiny says. “I look forward to coming to work. I love this job, I love this team.”