Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler
Western Australian Local Hero Finalist 2016, Carl Merrison was born in Wyndham in the Kimberley, and grew up in Halls Creek. Carl identifies as Jaru and Kija through his extended family on his mother’s side-his maternal grandmother being a Stolen Generation victim. Carl adopted his nine year old son, Deklan, when he was just a few months old. Carl worked as a Clontarf Indigenous Mentor, pool manager and lifeguard, and volunteered to coach the local Hawks football team (with recent success stories of Sam Petrevski-Seton and Cedric Cox achieving 2016 top 30 AFL draft picks).More recently he helped coach the Lismore Swans’ Women Team to victory.
Teacher and author, Hakea was born in Geelong, Victoria. Hakea spent 10 years in the care of her grandparents and overcame significant family disadvantage to succeed in her career and follow her passions. Hakea spent time volunteering with the Story Writing in Remote Locations (SWIRL) program while studying her Bachelor of Education degree at Victoria University. This experience sparked her passion to work with remote Aboriginal people. In 2013, Hakea and a friend moved to Halls Creek to work at the district high school.
The Hakea and Carl Collaboration
Hakea and Carl began dating in mid 2013, while Hakea was employed as a year 9 teacher. Hakea was instantly accepted and embraced by Carl’s extended family and the Halls Creek community. Carl enjoyed sharing his hometown and bush with her—exploring the region together. Recently the couple and their son welcomed a baby girl to their family. It was on maternity leave while waiting for baby to arrive that Hakea and Carl found time to put their ideas into writing.