• NAIDOC awards ‘Apprentice of the Year’ finalist Sharee Yamashita (NITV News)Source: NITV News
This Weipa electrician has sparked up the 2017 National NAIDOC Awards, after scoring the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ title.
Laura Morelli

3 Jul 2017 - 10:26 AM  UPDATED 4 Jul 2017 - 10:33 AM

Being a female electrician in the industry isn’t easy.

When Sharee Yamashita, a Thursday Island woman from the Torres Strait, first started at Rio Tinto Weipa she didn’t know how long she’d last.

“I thought man how am I going to do this, I’m not physically fitter than the others.”

Growing up, Sharee’s father was her biggest inspiration and always helped her strive for bigger goals.

“His motto was: ‘If you’re not going to a job properly don’t bother doing it at all’, and I’ve lived by that rule ever since.”

In primary school Sharee initially wanted to be a lawyer because she liked arguing and, of course, winning arguments. But that all changed in high school.

“When I was 17-years-old I had my first daughter… There were many struggles and sacrifices, but I had my mum there who supported me all the way.”

“I didn’t expect to become an electrical maintainer but it’s fun and I’m enjoying it.”

Completing an apprenticeship with a 4-year-old daughter was a challenge, but what made it more difficult was being apart for months on end from her partner.

“Here with an apprenticeship we don’t have Tafe, so we get sent out to Cairns for months at a time for six blocks in the four years. It was hard because all I wanted to do was come back to my baby but I just kept pushing myself.”

As a result of her hard work, Sharee has now gained full time employment and was successful enough in getting an electrical maintainer role.

“We maintain all the assets that Rio owns… we fix lights, fans, switches, we install circuit breakers and we do a lot of general installations basically we keep electricity flowing,” she said.

“I didn’t expect to become an electrical maintainer but it’s fun and I’m enjoying it.”

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