Rishelle Hume “came from nothing” to live a much-celebrated life that has seen her head-up diversity and inclusion at a global company.

The product of an abusive home that saw her lining up for food vouchers at the local welfare office to survive, she eventually left at 13 and was raised by her grandparents.

Thankfully, they were the highly respected Whadjuk Noongar Elders, Lorna and Patrick Hume.

“They were well-known in the late 70s and early 80s for their work around Aboriginal rights and Noongar culture within the government and wider community,” Dr Hume said.

“They spent their whole lives helping and progressing Aboriginal rights.

“I’ve devoted my working career and my life to the same causes.”

During the 80s, Lorna was the chair and Patrick a director of the Aboriginal Advancement Council.

“It was the one-stop-shop for all Aboriginal services here in Perth before the establishment of Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Medical Service and those organisations,” Dr Hume said.

“As a kid I remember sitting on the steps and watching all these people from all these backgrounds coming and going. Politicians like Fred Chaney . . . he used to come in and visit my Nan.”

“I had a mother that was non-Aboriginal and a father that was Aboriginal. Dad grew up in an era that Aboriginal kids didn’t go to school so he was very limited in his education and barely could read and write.”

When she was a teenager, Dr Hume’s life changed dramatically when her natural talent for sport earnt her a scholarship to the prestigious all-girls school Perth College.

“It was an opportunity that other kids didn’t get in life and I grabbed that with two hands,” she told the National Indigenous Times.

“It was so hard to fit in with these kids that had everything and didn’t know what it was like to come from nothing.

“Nan used to say, ‘You’ve got this opportunity for a reason, stay and learn what you can’,
and I did. I stayed right through to Year 12 and graduated.”

After graduating from high school Dr Hume, pictured, enrolled in TAFE, completing a Certificate III in Human Services. From there she found full-time employment as an Aboriginal Education Officer at Langford Primary School before relocating to Kalgoorlie to pursue a role with the Department of Sport and Recreation.

She later moved back to Perth and studied a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a double major in Human Resource Management part-time at Curtin University.

“Having a sporting background is great but at the end of the day, I needed to have something else,” she said.

After graduating from university, Dr Hume worked in Aboriginal Affairs, local government, and the Department of Justice.

In 2011, she landed at Chevron — starting as their Senior HR Employment Consultant.

“As of this month, I commenced a new role with Chevron’s Office of Global Diversity in America,” she said.

“My new title is Diversity and Inclusion Business adviser for EuroAsia Pacific.”

Dr Hume said she is proud to have an important role in a major corporation.

“You see other corporates and they are usually non-Aboriginal males . . . but I’m really proud of them giving me the opportunity,” she said.

“We need more Aboriginal women leaders. We need more Aboriginal women in the community to be there because we are a matriarchal system and our women are the backbone of our community. We need strong women out there to stand up and move forward.”

Dr Hume said she takes the responsibility of creating a path that hopefully others can follow seriously.

“I think to myself, this little girl from Maddington that grew up with nothing, who had a Dad that could barely read or write, now is in a major global corporate position,” she said.

“My Nan used to tell me, when you learn the meaning of responsibility and the obligation to those with opportunities, you always have to support those who don’t have those opportunities. She used to always say that to me, so I always make sure I give back.

“I look at my grandparents, and I think they would be very proud of what I’ve done in my life and what I’ve achieved.”

By Rachael Knowles