A forced slow down opens new doors for Tanya Dupagne

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Tanya Dupagne is no stranger to stepping outside her comfort zone. From facilitating programs for children in America and Africa, to a CEO role working with children affected by domestic violence, and running Camp Kulin in Western Australia, Tanya wants to pass on this advice in her new mentoring role with Country to Canberra.

Tanya’s fast-paced life came to a grinding halt when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, along with a raft of other illnesses and infections as a result.

However, in true Tanya Dupagne style, she sees it as a chance to slow down and take on some passion projects which she hasn’t had time for before.

“It has been a different kind of opportunity than what I’ve had before, I’m in a difficult situation and I could either sit here and feel sorry for myself or turn it into something positive.”

Tanya has joined an Advisory Panel to support drought communities and is on a mission to support young people with Lyme disease. But it doesn’t stop there, Tanya has recently become a mentor for Country to Canberra and with a wealth of experience like hers, she is the perfect fit for the role.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who have mentored me, so it’s a chance for me to give back and focus on something other than my intensive medical treatment.

“I have been matched with a young girl who wants to become a Clinical Psychologist and work with at-risk kids. Our interests are so similar, so I can connect her with networks to help her in the next step forward in her career,” Tanya explains.

When Tanya reflects on her own mentors throughout her career, she recommends not limiting yourself to a single mentor, but rather seek out a variety of mentors for different aspects of your life and career.

“A lot of my mentors actually came from the Rural Women’s Award and the connections I made all those years ago. It opened doors to people that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Through these connections I have been able to pass on opportunities to the people and kids I’ve worked with, which has created a ripple affect for hundreds of people,” Tanya says.

Little did Tanya know when she set off to work in summer camps in America, it would be the beginning of a much larger journey of supporting women and young people around the world.

After a few years in America, Tanya decided it was time for the next challenge and spent five years working in Africa working with children, “going places tourists aren’t meant to go and doing things tourists aren’t meant to do”. Fast forward a few years and Tanya came back to run programs for children in her hometown of Kwinana and was the youngest female to be elected to the City of Kwinana Council.

It’s no surprise The Project decided to feature Tanya’s story, which led her to her next adventure, Camp Kulin.

“Shortly after I appeared on The Project I got a call from a woman in Kulin, who said, ‘You have to come here’. So, I jumped in the car and drove three hours to the middle of the Wheatbelt to find a state-of-the-art recreation centre, a hostel that sleeps 50 people and the biggest waterslide in regional Australia.”

“They asked me what it would take for me to start a program there, and the rest is history!” Tanya tells us.

Tanya laughs as she explains she moved to Kulin to “slow down” but ended up creating one of the biggest programs for kids in Australia.

Tanya, Sarah Prime (National Rural Women’s Award Winner 2015), Alex Thomas (SA Rural Women’s Award Winner 2018) at a collaboration project with young people in South Australia.

 

“We worked with kids in regional Australia to give them opportunities that might not get that in their own towns. There was a three year wait for the program and parents were driving their kids 25 hours to come to the camp.”

It wasn’t just the children who got to experience the magic of Camp Kulin, through her Rural Women’s Award, Tanya also started a program for the mothers.

“After participating in the camp, many of the mothers ended up starting their own business, running for council or even winning a Rural Women’s Award. Belinda Lay, the 2019 WA Rural Women’s Award Winner participated in one of the camps and her goal was to apply for the WA Rural Women’s Award, and she ended up winning!”

From growing up in a low-socioeconomic area, to travelling across the globe, running huge programs and now being diagnosed with Lyme disease, Tanya says she can narrow down her career and life advice to one simple message – don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

“I was talked into applying for the Rural Women’s Award because I didn’t believe I could do it and I was ‘that’ person at the State and National Awards that didn’t have an acceptance speech written because I didn’t think I was going to win. So put yourself forward because you probably have the skills to do it, you just might not realise it yet.

“The magic happens when you step out from where you are comfortable.”

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