Alicia turns her life around

ALICIA HARPER was an estranged young person who was falling through the social cracks of a ruthless society.

After losing contact with her father, she lived with her mother’s partner’s family who became her guardians but she learned too soon to make decisions for herself, and noticed how streetwise she had become.

“There were intense arguments at home and my life was in turmoil,” she said.

“I was rebellious and didn’t understand that I had a real worth; I ached for support.

“At Lismore High, I was a troublemaker who was repeatedly suspended. Then finally, I went to Richmond River High where the deputy-principals, Mr Tolley and Mrs Williamson, sensed how things were for me.

“Champo (Mr Ian Champion) was cool too; he also believed in me and didn’t take my crap. I was confused and angry, and really, no ordinary people would have stood by me; but these people are not ordinary – they’re special.

“They listened to me and tried to understand; they knew how committed I could be if I stayed at school. Without them, my life would still be a mess and, when I think of how much tension I experienced prior to my HSC, I’d never have sat it without them. Respect is a two-way street and I’ll always respect them.”

Most of Alicia’s mementos from her long-ago happy childhood days are gone, destroyed by those she has lived with during her adolescent years but her resilience has filled her with optimism for not just her future, but also for those she wants to help.

As an activist for gay rights, she would love to see homophobia become a distant part of history.

Alicia’s insight into life has seen her undertake the Certificate IV in Community Services at TAFE, turning past negatives into future positives for the betterment of others.



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