Mel, IWD, mining

Meet Mel: I want to be able to give my people the opportunities that are out there

For International Women’s Day 2022, we are honoured to share the stories and words of Indigenous women at BHP.

Meet Mel Tullock-Dhu, a proud Tjupan Tjiwarl woman and Principal Indigenous Support for our nickel operations in the Northern Goldfields.  

I was born and grew up in Port Hedland but my family connection is to the Northern Goldfields. In Tjiwarl, there are a few different clans, and my family come from Tjupan.

My grandfather was born at Jones Creek. I have a lot of extended family that live on Country, from Wiluna to Leonora and in between. 

In the last 10 years, I’ve started spending a lot more time out on Tjiwarl country. I wanted to reconnect to my Country. I wanted to see the Country my father and grandfather grew up in. 

My father is now a police officer in Kalgoorlie and a Waati (senior Tjiwarl man). Last year I spent a week on country with dad, seeing where he grew up. It was really special, and good to be able to visualise his memories. There were a lot of struggles, and it was a rough life. 

But just being out there, on Tjiwarl Country – I feel connected, at home, and a sense of peace. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being out there – it’s the landscape. It’s so beautiful.

I grew up surrounded by really strong women, especially my mother, grandmother, aunties and sisters. 

My grandmother, a Balladong-Noongar woman, was part of the Stolen Generation. She was eight years old when she was taken from her family and placed on a mission, and to hear stories of her trying to break out and run back to her family, made me understand her strength and courage and that you must always do what is right for yourself. 

A lot of my career has been spent in Indigenous recruitment and support roles. I want to be able to give my people the opportunities that are out there, that they might not know about, so they can empower themselves.  

I’m fortunate to have strong independent young daughters who inspire me and are leading the way. I’m so proud of them. It’s so good to see that they can look after themselves and are forging their own paths.  

I also have grandchildren and my dream is for them to live in a world where they are seen for who they are; not what they are.