Series 1, Episode 4

Maria and Rob

Maria and Rob

Maria was raised by her white, single Italian mum and has one sister. When she was eight, Maria asked her mum why she had black skin and found out that her dad was Aboriginal. She was 12 when she found out that her dad had died. They had never met. Maria was the only black person in her class and experienced extreme racism growing up.

Maria pursued her Aboriginal heritage in highschool. After school she went down a creative path studying dance, painting and acting. There wasn’t a lot of work for black actors so Maria had a change of career and started a psychology degree to get a better understanding of racism.

Maria met her husband Matt when she was 19. Matt is a blonde haired, blue eyed architect and they’re both high achievers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In her fourth year of study, Maria fell pregnant with her son Isiah. She didn’t want him to experience the racism she'd grown up with so they moved interstate.

Maria recently moved to La Perouse, the oldest urban Indigenous area in Australia. She moved to the area to be closer to her dad who’s buried close by and to start her new dream job as a provisional psychologist working with Indigenous people.

Maria is eager to meet her neighbours as she’s new to the area and would like to get to know other families with children.

Rob suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder which has had a very crippling effect on his social life and relationships. He always felt very isolated. As a child he was jealous of his grandparents because they were retired and didn’t have to go to school or work. Colleagues never had any idea, Rob kept it hidden and viewed it as a guilty secret.

Over the years he tried a number of things to help him with his condition such as attending courses, seeing counsellors, private psychologists and psychiatrists but nothing helped.

In 2008 he did an eight week cognitive behavior therapy course run by the Brain and Mind Research Institute. After the course he was no longer classified as socially anxious.

Since then Rob has been invited back by the lecturer of the course to be a guest speaker, something he could never have imagined doing prior to completing the course. He has also recently pushed himself to speak at a launch in front of large crowds by reading an extract from a short story he’d had published.

Rob wants to meet his neighbours so he can increase awareness of Social Anxiety Disorder and hopes that through sharing his stories with others he may just help someone who feels isolated.

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