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Jacqui’s journey: Rewarding experiences and insightful advice

Jacqui stands facing the camera with her back to a wall of shelves with glass jars

We commissioned this striking portrait of our colleague, Jacqui Keeling, back in September, but we patiently held onto it in anticipation of the right moment to make it public.

A new challenge

Then one day, all staff at Forrest Personnel received an email announcing that Jacqui had accepted a new position within Forrest. She was going to become a team leader for the remote sites of Narrogin, Esperance and Kalgoorlie. The email rightly pointed out that Jacqui is an optimistic person with a seriously can-do attitude. As a congratulatory tribute, we’ve decided that now’s the perfect time to publish her portrait and explore her much-appreciated qualities.

Her happy place

Prior to the portrait shoot, we asked Jacqui to nominate her happy place. She didn’t hesitate and told us it was Small’s Bar in Eaton.

A visit to Small’s was in order, and while there with our photographer, we discovered that her favourite place was closely connected to her work. Jacqui showed us where she often sat so she could observe a participant she was supporting while doing his job. She talked enthusiastically about another and told us that: “he overcame his acute anxiety and found a calling at Small’s after never having worked a day, ever.”

A career snapshot

Having immigrated to Australia, Jacqui first landed in Perth. During a challenging economic time when jobs were scarce, she left the big city for Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) where she held an admin role in vocational and access studies. She might not have known it, but she was warming up for her career in the employment services field.

Jacqui eventually moved back to WA, where she took on positions of increasing responsibility in supporting people to find and keep jobs. From Perth, she made her way to Manjimup. In due course, she took a three-year break to raise her family and started a home-based business. It was in Manjimup that she reconnected with her passion for employment services. From that point, there was no turning back.

Jacqui and her family made their way to Bunbury, and she has been with Forrest for over six years now.

“You have changed my daughter’s life”

Many beautiful stories flow with ease from Jacqui’s heart. In one, she tells of a mother who approached her in a supermarket, held Jacqui’s hands and said: “You have changed my daughter’s life. My daughter wants to go out and work now. You changed her life and mine as well.”

Jacqui went on to say that before meeting the mother, she had no idea of the profound impact she had had on the daughter and family.

“I know because I have been there”

Jacqui finds herself on a rewarding journey that would rival anyone’s for variety and good fortune. This journey, we suspect, has been made smoother as a result of her optimistic nature.

We wanted to hear, from such a successful person, her best advice for all jobseekers in the big wide world. What would she say? What does she say? “It’s about patience, persistence and perseverance. If you don’t get that job, try again, and again until you crack it,” she replied. And, to round things out, a statement from our colleague that confirms she appreciates the acute challenges of the jobseeker: “I know because I have been there.”


Photo: Jacqui Keeling at Small’s Bar, 2020. Photo: Rob Cox, oxy images

Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.

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