Words Ellie Russell / Photo Samara Harris
A passion for people, education and a natural curiosity to explore life in the bush has lead former South Australian Hannah Parish to pursue a rewarding career as a governess in the Far West…
Hannah Parish is much like any young woman in the workforce today – excitedly seeking adventure and new opportunities. Four years ago she took a leap and applied for a some-what unconventional role in primary education. Hannah’s job title is ‘governess’ and she works and resides on a remote sheep station at Louth in the Far West where she says she has uncovered her passion for education and the region she now proudly calls home.
“I spent my primary school years in Adelaide and then moved to Whyalla in South Australia with my family for high school and beyond. I don’t really know what inspired me to governess but I spent a lot of time camping as a child and loved being outdoors and in the bush. I think it was mostly the appeal of a completely different life and being able to combine educating children with being in the bush that pushed me to pursue this as a career,” said Hannah. For those unfamiliar with this type of work, a governess (or govie as they are affectionately known) is primarily responsible for supervising the children on a property (usually those in remote locations) and assist with their schoolwork.
A govie is required to ensure the children learn and understand the topics set out in the school curriculum. Governesses play a huge and important role in a number of farming families’ lives as often the parents will be well occupied with the day-to-day running of their properties and unable to assist with schooling their children in their remote locales.
Before making the move out west Hannah was unsure what a governess even was. “I first heard about governessing when I was working as a housekeeper on a station in the Northern Territory. I never knew what governessing was until I met the govie at the time and since then I haven’t wanted to do anything else!” Hannah relocated to the Far West in 2013 and although admits the location can often feel isolating, she believes there are endless opportunities for those willing to make the move to this region themselves.
“I have had so many great opportunities in this role – I’ve done a few interviews now, been on television shows with the kids, supported the kids performing at the ICPA (Isolated Children and Parent’s Association) conference, travelled all across NSW, been a part of a local sporting team, flown a plane and so much more.” For some families it’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure a long-term governess for their children but Hannah can’t imagine ever leaving the region after her four-year stint so far. “I can’t see myself ever leaving the area.
When anyone asks me out being a governess out here I always tell them to give it a go. I applied for a job on a whim and will be forever grateful for the opportunity it has provided me to discover what I love. Governessing definitely isn’t for everyone but you will never know if you don’t try!”