Before Beck Humphreys began her teaching career, she never wanted to leave Brisbane.
'My community was there, my safety net was there, and all my friends were there,' Beck said.
But fast-forward 10 years and today you’ll find Beck teaching at
Barcaldine Prep–12 State School, having just bought a house in Aramac with her girlfriend.
'We have a 1-year-old lab called Lucky, go to our local bowls club most Friday nights after a busy week for a $1 sausage sizzle and game,' Beck said.
'I became one of those stories where I came out to have a rural experience, and here we are 7 years later. I never left!'
Beck’s path to a rural life was fuelled by conversations with teaching mentors when she was a beginning teacher at
Bundamba State Secondary College in Ipswich.
'My older colleagues spoke fondly of their time teaching out in the country,' Beck said.
'Everybody had done it and remarked how open and welcoming their communities were, and how much the experience had helped them cement good skills in the foundation of their careers.'
'Most even have a story where they knew a teacher who moved out of the south-east corner, met someone, and have never come back,' Beck said.
'To me, it was also clear that teaching outside of the city was a rite of passage, and a good way to give back to the community.'
Beck was keen to keep up the tradition in her career and started to seriously consider making the move herself, excited by the prospect of new experiences.
'Everything sounded great, but my only concern was how the community would react if they found out I’m gay,' Beck said.
Beck’s principal at the time gave her some advice—wise words which Beck would now give to anybody going rural or remote.
'My principal told me that rural communities are friendly places and that teachers are highly respected,' Beck said.
'He encouraged me to make an effort to truly be a part of the community when I moved—to join in with sports, committees and events.'
'So that’s what I did, and seven years later I’m still the secretary of our local bowls club!' Beck said.
'By giving some of your time and getting out and joining in with things in the community, you earn respect from the people around you and you’re free to be yourself.'
Beck’s experience teaching for the Queensland Department of Education in a rural community has been a positive one.
'People have always been accepting of me,' Beck said.
As an LGBTIQ+ inclusive employer, the department aims to provide workplaces where all employees feel safe, valued and supported to bring their whole selves to work.
The department released its
Proud at Work (PDF, 831KB) workforce strategy in August 2018, part of the
We All Belong (PDF, 3.2MB) workforce inclusion and diversity framework which outlines the department’s commitment to grow together, valuing and embracing the different skills, knowledge and experiences each staff member brings.