Since moving to Broome, Persine has volunteered for many organisations. She has housesat mansions, lived in dongas, loves a good spicy curry and fits under my armpit. As they say, “Give a busy person a job and they will get it done!” She has taken the word ‘community’ and embraced it with her whole being. She’s single, tiny, female, dark‐skinned and is comfortable working in male dominated roles.

Over the years, Persine has been involved and volunteered in many organisations in Broome and in 2005 was Volunteeer of the Year. Her volunteer positions have been  Navy Cadets State Emergency Service Ambulance Officer Masters Games *KPAC ‐ Kimberley Performing Arts Council.

Now she has taken on the volunteer position as the President of the RSL.

What was life like in Singapore and the move to Perth?

The first 16 years of my life was in Singapore. My future was all planned out. I was going to join the army as a doctor in the Singapore Armed Forces. Life was full and my school encouraging. A completely different culture to Australia in that with school you did everything, from basketball, crossing country and long distance running, gymnastics, army cadets, historical society, chess and debating. We would all do extra curricula activities on Saturday – participation counted towards our GCE general education levels. It was a structured society for us kids.

It was also difficult times if you were not Chinese. My Mum and Father were Indian. My father had difficulty finding work and an Irish lady who acknowledged Dad’s ability, skills and qualifications and suggested he migrate to Australia. Dad migrated first and after a couple of years working in the mines, he had bought a house in Perth and moved the family, to Balga, on the same street as Brian Burke, former Premier of Perth.

The move to Australia was very tough. It was a cultural shock; a lot of people did not talk to me as they thought I did not speak English. During my interview with the school Principal, he spoke only to my mother until he realised that I too I spoke English. I left school with miserable results, never adjusting to the way we were taught. I made some good friends though. After school I worked for a year and then returned to Singapore. I was going to marry my childhood sweetheart. I was there three months and felt stifled. I was always independent but after three years in Australia, I had changed. I was so much more independent, thinking for myself, not being judged or constrained. Australian society is a lot freer and I found on my return that Singapore was too structured and narrow for me.

I went to TAFE to redo my matriculation. I did not get enough points to study medicine, but I enrolled in a Science Degree. During first year of science I struggled with biology, so I withdrew from university and got a job in Disability Services. I was there for 17 years.

Whilst working in Perth I was involved in the Citizens Military Forces as they were desperate for volunteers. Volunteers had to undergo a range of pre‐testing, IQ and psychological assessment, including an interview with the Chaplain. He wanted to reassure himself that I knew what I was getting myself in to and mentioned things such as the colour of my skin, the fact that the organisation was male dominated and very wary of females. I was shocked as in Singapore; girls were doing everything. Females were in the army cadets, ambulance, and police cadets. Anyway, I was 22 and enthusiastic, and let it breeze over me. Out of an intake of 400, there were only a dozen women, and I was the only coloured! I was in the artillery section for nearly six years and worked with incredible supportive soldiers.

Why did you come to Broome?

During my time in Perth, I had three miscarriages and some friends in Broome invited me to visit to meet my godson. I took some extended leave from work and arrived in Broome in May 1995. I applied for extended leave without pay from my job in Perth. In Broome I worked as a live‐in nanny, then at Printing Ideas so everything fell into place. Over the years I have had many jobs, but like most people in Broome – you must be flexible.

Tell me about your volunteering in Broome.

When I came to Broome I was asked if I would like to be involved with the Navy Cadets as an instructor. I knew nothing about the water, they were short of volunteers, and I had worked with young people in Perth. Well, that was over 35 years ago, and I am still a part of the Navy Cadets. I really love working with the youth, they are from 12 to 18 and over the years I have watched them grow up and have families and some have even joined the Navy and done very well. I am very proud of this.

I felt the Australia education system lacked structure, predictability, responsibility, initiative and leadership and I hope I have given these to the Navy Cadets over the years.

joined the State Emergency Services, in 1996. They were fun years with lots of training and a great group of people. We were involved in cyclone clean‐ups, rescues as well as the search for Robert Bogucki, who went missing for 40 days in the Great Sandy Desert.

Now, I volunteer as an ambulance officer – they have a special cushion for me so I can reach the pedals of the ambulance. I put myself down for a shift from time to time, but not as many as in previous years. They really need volunteers to help, a lot of training is given and there’s a dedicated group of people on call to help people in all sorts of situations.

In 2005, I was made Volunteer of the Year. Some good friends, Noel and Sandy Trevor nominated me for that. I have also been a volunteer for the Masters Games and KPAC – Kimberley Performing Arts Council.

Last year the RSL – Returned and Services League, were in financial troubles and needed volunteers to help them through, as there was no committee. I had been a member for 15 years, so somehow my hand went up. Once they were sorted out, a committee was voted on, and I was elected to be President of the RSL. I am chuffed to be part of such a male dominated but iconic club.

Now you can see why it is hard to catch up with Persine for a social visit.

Uniquely Broome 2020