Leading with empathy: WA 2024 Australian of the Year, Mechelle Turvey, continues her incredible impact

  • 18 June 2024

It was an emotional and inspiring morning on Tuesday 18 June, with the latest Inspiring Australians’ Breakfast taking place with special guest, WA 2024 Australian of the Year, Mechelle Turvey.

Joined by her close family, WA Police colleagues and some 180 guests at the University Club of Western Australia, Mechelle was authentic, endearing and quick-witted – the person that those who have met her have come to know and admire.

Following plenty of warm greetings and introductions, event emcee, 9 News’ Tracy Vo, kicked off proceedings, introducing Mr Barry Winmar to the stage to Welcome us all to Country.

Upon inviting Mechelle to the stage, we were reminded of the moment she was named WA’s 2024 Australian of the Year, and why.

two women speaking on stage
Warm and witty: Mechelle Turvey chats to Tracy Vo

Reflecting on the two years since her 15-year-old son, Cassius, was assaulted on his way home from school, dying from his injuries 10 days later, Mechelle recalled the days after his passing, when she called for calm and unity.

“Many protests lose the messaging with their anger. I didn’t want my mob to be stereotyped in that light. I have to think about what Cassius would want as a person. Who am I to do anything different? When Indigenous people are murdered, especially children, their name is often not shared, but I want people to say his name and remember his qualities to inspire other kids to be.”

Not only did Mechelle lose her son, but her entire community felt the loss of a generous and thoughtful young person, explaining how Cassius was a member of youth services and sports clubs, and a big part of his school, which has launched a student award in his name.

two women speaking on stage with two audience members in foreground
Heartwarming moments as Mechelle’s sister and mum look on

On the introduction of her new program, Take 5, Mechelle called WA Police Commissioner Col Branch to the stage.

When discussing the purpose and practice of the program, he explained it was very much based on the empathy and unity that Mechelle has long advocated for – community liaison officers connecting police and the community, with Mechelle leading and guiding them.

Mechelle added: “It is amazing being in a role where I can work from a blank canvas, I can design and consult with all of the officers, survey them, to make sure that they’re included. It’s a really good feeling as an Aboriginal person that I have the drive and will on that.”

audience laughing
Mechelle made the audience both laugh and cry

With the opportunity to ask Mechelle anything, audience members wanted to know about tough moments in getting her message heard, and what success looks like.

“To be myself and have more volume to get the message across. I hope that common sense prevails in the end.”

Throughout the morning, Mechelle quoted words of advice from her grandmother, shed tears with her mum and sister (who she called her rock), and, in typical Mechelle fashion, created plenty of laughs as well. It all came back to the importance of family, and the support and protection they give one another.

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In good company: Mechelle was supported by fellow Australian of the Year Alumni, Kate Kirwin and Nick Hudson

Closing the event, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Patrick Gorman, took to the stage and encouraged everyone to think of others who inspire them and nominate them in the 2025 Australian of the Year Awards.

Nominate them now at Nominations close Wednesday 31 July at 10pm AWST.

The Inspiring Australians’ Breakfast with Mechelle Turvey was proudly supported by P&N Bank, City of Swan and WA Police.

See all photos from the event here.

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