FORMER Willaura resident Melaine Robinson admits she is a natural born story teller.
51-year-old Melaine is legally blind and her life took a different direction in 2020 after she became redundant from a job she loved at the Lost Dogs Home.
“I worked 31 years for the one organisation, started off as a trainee veterinary nurse and then stayed in the organisation all that time and as my vision deteriorated, I moved into other more admin type roles.”
“At the start of 2020, and nothing to do with COVID, there was a restructure and I found myself redundant,” she said.
All of a sudden, Melanie had time on her hands, but was uncertain of her next challenge.
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She eventually enrolled in a course run through Vision Australia on audio journalism.
“I didn’t even know what audio journalism was, I knew about podcasts but I had no idea where to go to access them.”
“It was a small group, only four of us, and we would meet once a week with a facilitator who also had an interest in community radio, we’d get on line to talk about audio material, producing it and story structures and so on. It made me realise I had a creative side to me,” she said.
“Through the course, the facilitator said to us if you’ve got an idea that you might like to do an audio piece on, lets do that.”
Melaine decided to do her first piece on Spoonville – an initiative where during the pandemic, people painted wooden spoons and placed them in parks and gardens.
With the help of her support worker, they packaged up an audio story and took it back to the group.
“They were like, this is great and as a result of that, I was encouraged to come up with another idea for the CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) National Features and Documentaries (awards).”
Melaine decided to produce a 12 minute news feature on the benefits of horses as therapy animals.
Titled “Rideability”, she wrote, interviewed and researched how the programs run by groups like Riding for the Disabled can be beneficial for people with various disabilities.
“During this I was paired with a radio producer mentor in Brisbane, so I had a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with her during the process and she was fantastic, she said.
“I did also manage to do a lot of the interviews face to face.”
“Doing this was timely because my vision had been deteriorating over the years and I’m starting to realise that I need to look for things where I use my voice and my brain rather than relying too much on the residual vision I’ve got and may not have in a few years.”
“I’m a natural storyteller. I’ve got Irish ancestry and I like to talk,” Melaine said.
As a result, Melaine recently won the 2021 CBAA Community Radio Award for the National Features and Documentary Series.
Her news feature has also featured on radio stations across the country, including the Vision Australia Network.
Melaine was born at Willaura hospital in 1970 and attended Willaura Primary School and Marian College.
While she now lives in Melbourne, she gets back to Willaura frequently to see her parents Karen and Graham, who are well known members of the local community.
So, where to from here for Melaine?
“I do have an idea for a series of children’s books on accident awareness with pets, that’s my pipeline dream to do that eventually,” she said.
You can listen to Melaine’s winning piece at https://omny.fm/shows/national-features-and-documentary-series/rideability-vision-australia-radio