Michelle Hooke

Michelle Hooke's passion and dedication to the community has led her to become not only the fearless leader of an outstanding community organisation, but also an inspiration to the whole Bowen community.

After leaving school in year 10 and becoming a housewife, Michelle spent a short time working in local schools before landing the job as general manager of Girudala Community Cooperative Society Ltd in 1996.

"It was something that was in my blood," Michelle said.

"My mum was a member of Girudala, and it was always part of the local community so I just developed a love for the organisation.

"I live Girudala 24/7."

Under her leadership the organisation has gone from strength to strength, expanding from a housing cooperative into a diverse and innovative community organisation which provides services in health, employment and training, family support, home and community care (HACC) for the elderly and frail, all of which are available for Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community.

The organisation also has a business arm which runs Bowen's only bulk billing private medical centre, the HiHo Contracting Company and the 360 on Flagstaff Cafe.

"I'm a big picture thinker and a bit of a dreamer," Michelle said.

"Sometimes, I sit in my office dreaming about what we can do next and I go out to the staff and say 'this is what we're going to do.'

"I think the biggest thing has been focusing on growing the organisation to what it is today, but still having a vision for the future."

And for the future Michelle has set her sights firmly on her mission to make Girudala "an absolute one-stop-shop for everyone".

"It's about employing local people and empowering the community to make informed decisions," she said.

She also has some wise words of advice for young people to empower themselves.

"Get into your studies and make the most of the opportunity," she said.

"You're only young for a certain period - you're an adult for much longer. So get a good education so you can make the changes we want to see in this world."