Sixteen-year-old Lavinia Ketchell, could hardly believe her ears when her name was read out as the winner of Kimberley Girl 2011. “I’m so excited and happy… I think anything is possible now,” said a beaming Lavinia after hearing the news.
Lavinia, who is from the remote community of One Arm Point, 200km north of Broome, says the competition has inspired her and she’s looking forward to going back to her community to share her experience and encourage others.
Established in 2004 by former Broome model Kira Fong, the Kimberley Girl competition has gone from strength-to-strength every year, aiming to boost the confidence and self esteem of young Aboriginal women from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.
This year, four finalists from Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Kununurra and their surrounding Aboriginal communities made the final following heats held in September and October. The Pilbara Girl winner, Samarah Brown, 17, was crowned in September.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony, which has become a hotly anticipated event on the Western Australian Indigenous calendar. For all participants, the journey began with week-long workshops held in each of the participating communities, covering everything from grooming and makeup to positive body image, public speaking and goal setting. Finalists then headed to Broome for another week of workshops before the final.
Best of all, the success of Kimberley Girl has encouraged various other Indigenous communities from all over the country to start up similar programs of their own.
Lavinia now has her sights set on finishing Year 12 at boarding school in Darwin. Next year, she plans to attend university to gain an early-childhood education degree.