When Jordan Kelly moved from Sydney to Blayney five years ago, the transition from the city to small town life was hard enough, but having to deal with being somewhat different to her peers didn’t help.
The 18 year old left school when she was in year 10 and has since opened up about who she is and the experiences that have shaped her.
She has been announced as ‘Young Woman of the Year,’ at the International Women’s Day awards at Ironbark Espresso Bar.
“My experiences in the school system here have certainly shaped the person I am today because I learnt just how dismissive an education system can be of mental health and of sexuality,” she said.
“The reason I left is that they couldn’t offer me anything to keep me there to help me with the rest of my schooling.”
Special guest speaker, Greens MP in the New South Wales Legislative Council Mehreen Furuqi, talked about how difficult it was for women in rural areas to seek help.
As soon as you raise your voice, everyone looks at you, that’s how it is in a rural area.Jordan Kelly
“Rural women have fewer opportunities to access healthcare and to be able to seek refuge in a safe environment, “ she said, “It’s also difficult if you’re a member of the LGBTI to live in a small community.”
It’s a sentiment that Jordan heartily agrees with.
“In Sydney it’s easier to go under the radar because not everyone knows you, and I went to schools that had thousands of kids and there are a lot more people there that are open to these things,” she said.
“As soon as you raise your voice, everyone looks at you, that’s how it is in a rural area.
“During high school I struggled a lot with depression and anxiety and the school knew of it but they had limited ways that they could help me with it and it became too much,” she said.
The turning point came when she began babysitting her neighbour’s kids.
That neighbour was the organiser of the awards, Delanie Sky.
“That transformed from babysitting to me helping out her campaign for the election and it bought something out in me that I never really recognised,” she said.
“In my last few years at high school I discovered the world of equal rights and although I understood what was wrong with the world, I struggled to come out and say something.”
“It was all built up inside me, but when I went to the marriage equality rally in Bathurst with Delanie, it happened that they were missing a speaker.
“Delanie encouraged me to get up and I had about 20 minutes to write a speech, and then get up in front of 100 people, which I had never done before, and I just said what I felt, made the point of mental health and how important it is.”
Jordan’s self awareness progress continues, and in recent months her introspection and discovery is leading her to new ideas about the world she lives in.
“At the end of the day, human connection is the one thing that truly makes us happy in this world. So finding your place and someone to connect with, because without them it’s really difficult to be open,” she said.