Opportunities provided the chance to succeed 

Port Hedland and the opportunities it offers have been a constant for Nur-Irdah Halik.

Like others before her, Nur has left and returned. Born in Port Hedland shortly after her father, from Christmas Island, and her mother, from Singapore, moved to the town toward the end of the 1980s, Nur recognises that children in the town today have more educational and cultural options than when she was growing up, but said, “I owe Port Hedland a lot”.

It was a BHP full scholarship that enabled her to attend university where she studied mass communication, majoring in journalism and public relations, which gave her the skills she now uses in her business, (f)empowered communications.

But she also calls on a range of experience gained locally and overseas.

Returning to Port Hedland in 2009 after graduating from Curtin University, Nur did not intend to stay but the ravages of the Global Financial Crisis meant job prospects generally were limited — but not in Port Hedland.

“It was the time of the GFC and no-one in Perth was hiring,” Nur said. “I came back for a wedding and it was the mining boom, and everyone was hiring. It was a no brainer to move back and work here.

“You always have work, so you always have security. For me looking back it gave me opportunities; you are earning a fairly good income compared to working in the city and that gave me the chance to do other things, such as travel.

“And your opportunities to be exposed to wider experiences are far better in the Pilbara than living in the city or metropolitan areas.”

Since 2009, Nur has worked for the Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce; the Town of Port Hedland, twice; in Laos with the Australian Red Cross in a volunteer program; FORM Pilbara; and Pilbara Ports Authority.

It was at the PPA that she met Richard, and they have a two-year-old son, Ryan.

“If you have kids, you will never be without friends in Hedland,” Nur said.

“In every event there will always be something for young kids and families. From my experience there has been a massive shift towards involving young families. With working at the council, I can see from when I started to when I left there was more consideration towards engaging young families and making sure there were things for the kids to do.

“The Facebook community in Hedland is rampant. It’s so active, with lots of groups for mums and at least twice a week there will be posts saying I’m moving to Hedland and I need to make some friends, and people will respond with offers of help and to have coffee.

“It’s extremely welcoming when new people come to town.”

Nur said there is now a greater awareness of the need to invest in young people in the town to ensure there are reasons for them to stay when they leave school.

While her schooling “was not terrible”, it was limited. It was only when the scholarship enabled her to attend university that she gained a better understanding of the breadth of possible career opportunities.

Nur’s mother and brothers live in Port Hedland and love the lifestyle, as does Nur.

“It’s stable, secure, relaxed, cruisy. When I left after high school, I was ready to leave the slow lifestyle, and then when you come back as you get older you realise that you can’t keep up with that life. You need to slow down and enjoy the simple things and that’s what Hedland is all about.”

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