Leda Barnett is a Murri woman from Queensland who grew up mainly in Brisbane. Leda is a psychologist who entered her profession later in life.
“At school, I wasn’t academic at all,” said Leda. “I knew I could do well if I applied myself, but for me, school was about getting to know people and socialising.”
“When I left school, I went to TAFE and completed an Associate Diploma in Business – Hospital and Catering. After that, I worked part-time in hospitality and kept doing this, even when I entered the public service and started an administrative traineeship,” said Leda. “I worked in the public service for several years, gradually working my way up to an AO4.”
“Apart from Mum being a nurse, my most meaningful experience of the health system was when I left the public service and moved to Port Hedland in Western Australia for a couple of years. Here I provided administrative support to the different departments at Port Hedland Regional Hospital,” said Leda. “This was a great opportunity to learn more about the health sector and a range of health professions; I really enjoyed my time there. Despite this, at the age of 28, I decided it was time for tertiary study, and I moved back to Queensland to start an education degree.”
“In the first semester of my education degree, I had my first taste of psychology,” said Leda. “It intrigued me to think that I could sit down with someone, do a psychological assessment and have a psychological profile of that individual. This interested me much more than the thought of being a teacher.”
“It was then that I decided to change to a combined psychology and education degree, so, in my second year of study, I transferred to another campus and started my double degree,” said Leda.
“It usually takes a little less than six years to complete a double degree, but I took a little longer as I failed a subject,” said Leda. “I found statistics difficult when I didn’t apply myself, but I wouldn’t let it beat me, and I was committed to understanding everything I needed to know to be a psychologist. So I went on to complete my study in seven years – including honours!”
“The support I received from the Murri Centre at Uni was very important to me,” said Leda. “They offered academic support and social support – which really helped as I was new to the campus and didn’t know anyone. In addition, they offered stability and a safe place to be.”
Leda graduated in 2007 and completed a psychology internship to become a registered psychologist.
“One of the things I love about being a psychologist is the variety – it’s not just all about counselling,” said Leda. “There are so many branches of psychology I could choose from, including sports, education, health, forensic and environmental. For example, I worked on a health research project while I was doing my Honours, and this helped me to choose the direction I wanted to go in.”
“I didn’t have a specific path I followed in my career,” said Leda. “Early on, I accepted work opportunities that came my way, and this led me to where I am today. I’ve had so many experiences in different areas over the years; these helped me to identify where my interests lie and how I can contribute to psychology.”
“I’m a member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), who support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals and students, and I’m a member of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA). IAHA opens up my support networks to include many other strong Indigenous allied health professionals. In addition, AIPA offers me the support of my fellow Indigenous psychologists, who strengthen my resolve. They’ve become great friends and colleagues.”
“To anyone considering a career in psychology, I would say do your research, understand the realities of being a psychologist and be ready to commit to at least six years of study,” said Leda. “It is so worth it, and there is a lot of support out there for you if this is the path you choose.”