The beginning of Ilora Barman’s studies at UWA marked a period of immense change.
She had recently travelled to Australia from India and was adjusting to life in a new country that is culturally very different to where she is from, returning to studies after a four-year break from university, while also juggling family life with a young child.
Looking for opportunities to meaningfully connect with the Perth community, Ilora, who is studying a Master of Strategic Communication, was immediately drawn to UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship program.
Ilora was offered an intern role within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Gender Diversity Service, at Perth Children's Hospital, where she provided research support across a range of projects, including initiatives supporting transgender youth in WA.
In addition to gaining an understanding of the vulnerability of the young transgender community of Australia, who Ilora describes as “amazing and inspiringly resilient”, the internship helped Ilora to feel “accepted and valued”, allowing her to give back to the WA community.
Ilora’s confidence grew through the internship, and when she heard of the opportunity to join the McCusker Centre for Citizenship's unique mentoring program in 2021, she jumped at the chance.
“I knew that I’d be mentored by a respected person through this program. I just couldn’t miss this opportunity,” said Ilora.
Ilora’s application was successful and she was matched with mentor Joe Calleja, who has extensive experience as CEO of various organisations across WA, and is currently Principal of Recovery Matters, an organisation that advocates for system change in the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.
“I’m so blessed to have Joe Calleja as my mentor,” says Ilora, “I’ve found a friend, well-wisher, and an amazing mentor.”
Mr Calleja has been extremely impressed by Ilora’s drive and determination.
“Ilora is quick to learn and displays tremendous insight and capacity. She has an enquiring mind, and her questions often make me reflect quite deeply and challenge me. I feel privileged to have an opportunity to mentor someone so early in her career,” said Mr Calleja.
Post-graduation, Ilora hopes to work as a communication strategist with organisations that have a strong positive community focus. Mr Calleja has supported Ilora to find organisations that fit this ethos and she has already found a role with an organisation that she will be commencing shortly.
Ilora is thankful for the support she has gained throughout her experiences with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship and recommends the programs to her peers.
“I’m ever so grateful for this opportunity,” said Ilora.