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“We can be impactful because we have lived experience” – Tina Westrup

Tina Westrup is standing with her back against a slatted wall. She is wearing a black jacket and glasses and is looking at the camera

By many measures, the City of Bunbury is a big place. It employs about 320 people and according to the City’s annual budget 2020-21, operating costs are stated as being just shy of $66 million.

It’s a big place with which to do business. As a result, it’s proven fruitful for Forrest Personnel to have a singular point of contact to discuss the City’s staffing needs and how we might be able to support them to meet those needs. The person on our end’s been Employment Consultant Denise Bilston (the role is transitioning to Shay Kumar) and at the City, it’s Tina Westrup, Senior Business Partner.

Engaging on many levels

We’ve collaborated closely with Tina for a number of years now. Points of contact have been broad in scope and have included: us suggesting job ready candidates to work at Containers for Change refund depots; Tina attending an awards evening at which we presented certificates to participants and their employers who got to work during Covid-19; us supporting successful applicants through City traineeships – including, most recently, Toby Blyth and Cameron Payne; and, in December of 2020, Tina successfully brokering (with extremely tight timelines) our use of a City facility for the filming of our two new television commercials. And, it must be said, she features in one!

That’s a diverse array of collaborations by any standard. We were keen to chat with Tina to find out where her drive and can-do attitude hail from.

Tina is standing with her back to a wall and is facing a photographer and cameraman. Everyone is wearing high-vis clothing.

Tina on the day of the television commercial shoot looking toward photographer Simon Westlake and cameraman Torstein Dyrting. Photo by Malcolm MacLean

Global experience

Tina told us that after her high school years, she thought that working in hospitality and childcare were, quite possibly, her future. She studied at TAFE, and then left for Paris for a childminding assignment. She then moved continents again, this time with her family, to Nashville, Tennessee, in the Southeastern US. It was there that the idea of pursuing higher education came to light.

Back to school

Tina Westrup returned to WA, enrolled in university and completed a Bachelor of Business with a double major in Human Resources Management and Management. She began at Griffin Coal in Collie and then moved over to the City of Bunbury.

The City employs approximately 10 Forrest Personnel participants. During our conversation, Tina reminded us of her employer’s stated values: ‘we are community, we are open, we are brave.’ The City sounds like an ideal place for people of all abilities to be working. How did it get there, we wondered?

Cultural change is a journey

Tina explained that the City began a cultural change journey in 2018. It’s that process that established the three values along with the goal of being inclusive. However, she did stress that cultural change and inclusion are not end points. They are works in progress.

We wanted to know if Tina had had any eureka moments in which she’d become aligned with the idea of inclusion. She described her realisation as: “I can do something. I can’t change everyone or everything, but I can give people a voice. I can remind them not to underestimate their impact as individuals.”

Reflections from Denise

We also chatted with our colleague Denise Bilston about her long-standing engagements with Tina. The first word that Denise used to describe Tina was ‘open.’ Denise reflected that: “Tina is open in conversation, open in her engagements with others, open to anything.” It’s interesting that Denise’s key word mirrors one of the City’s three values. Tina Westrup is living it!

“We can all be impactful”

According to Tina, we can all be impactful because we all have lived experience to draw upon. It’s just about finding the path and the voice (or people like Tina to support us using our voice). Knowing that we can be impactful in some way is very empowering.


Feature photo: Tina Westrup, November 2020. Photo by 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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