At the age of 21, Culburra’s Samantha D’Elboux is already breaking big barriers in her career. The young Aboriginal woman is defying tradition in the water operations industry – and winning awards as a result.
Now onto her third major award for the year, Samantha’s recently been named the Illawarra’s 2016 NAIDOC Young Female Achiever of the Year. This comes after receiving TAFE NSW Illawarra’s Trainee of the Year Award and a TAFE NSW Gili Award.
As Shoalhaven City Council’s first-ever female Water Operator, it’s Samantha’s success in a traditionally male-dominated field that’s catching the attention of her industry.
“At first, I didn’t understand why I was receiving these awards. I thought what I was doing was normal.
“After talking with people like my TAFE teacher and meeting colleagues in the industry, I started realising I’m one of only a few female water operators in the country,” says Samantha.
“So on reflection, I can see how I’m breaking barriers.”
Samantha says a career in water operations is a natural fit for her interests.
“I’ve always wanted to work in the earth and environment industry. I came across the water operations field after seeing an ad for a traineeship with Shoalhaven City Council. I thought, this is the way to get my foot in the door.
“I love it. It’s so varied. Every day is different,” says Samantha.
“I look after servicing and maintaining all water assets across the Shoalhaven. This includes everything from treating and testing water, fixing and maintaining water metres, managing burst mains, as well as making sure our local sewerage systems are operational.”
When asked about what’s next for the high achiever, Samantha says: “I plan on staying in this field for a while. I’m really enjoying it.
“Long term, I eventually want to move into engineering and environmental science. The big dream is to work in mine rehabilitation, which is where you re-establish mines once the companies have left them.”
Samantha also believes in being role model for others.
“I regularly volunteer as a mentor at Shoalhaven High School. I talk to the students about the transition from school to a career and the importance of believing in yourself – which is something I’m really passionate about.
“I had a female teacher at school who really pushed me to believe in myself. Once you do that, it’s amazing what you can achieve.
“Overcoming self-doubt and building your confidence is so important. So I’ll take any opportunity I can to help others realise that.”