H is for History #4 – Kia Handley

ABC Journalist Kia Handley with George Huitker

ABC Journalist Kia Handley with George Huitker

By George Huitker, Director of Service Learning and College Historian

I cast Kia Handley as the Cowardly Lion in a wacky version of The Wizard of Oz way back in 2005. “That was the coolest thing I did,” she now recalls, although it may not have been so cool in the costume we provided. “I lost a lot of weight in the lion-suit,” she added - and for which I deeply apologise.

2005 cast of Wizard of Oz, Kia Handley as lion

Wondering if my casting was serendipitous, Kia assured me that the symbol of the lion has been one that has remained with her through time and that her exciting, if not courageous, post-school career as a journalist with the ABC has allowed her to indeed roar on behalf of the quiet battlers of our nation. Kia is presently stationed in Port Macquarie as a producer and presenter on New South Wales Statewide Drive program. 

Kia at the podium for ABC initiative HeywireKia is the sort of journalist who seeks to “be in the areas of Australia where we are not good at telling stories” and she remembers fondly talking to “real people” she has met along "the coastal fringe and out of the city". Not that she hasn’t had many intriguing and possibly unforgettable brushes with people of fame. I asked about Oz rockers and she confirmed Bernard Fanning and James Reyne - it is just that the stories of people often found away from the spotlight have inspired her and her audiences more profoundly than most. Working around regional New South Wales has proven to be fertile ground for deeply moving interviews, such as covering the Wagga Wagga floods in 2012 or the bushfires around Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles National Park a year later (an area Radford College frequently visits during the Gamilaraay trips). Talking intensely with people who have lost their homes, sometimes for the second time, has never left her memory. She is also committed to “young people in regional Australia who are making great change” and helping them promote their endeavours. It is hoped Kia will join us and cover a G-Trip in the future.

Kia Handley, remembering Elvis at ParkesKia’s personality also allows her time for the quirky and arcane, as she adores covering the Parkes Elvis Festival and sees herself as the unofficial ABC Correspondent to Eurovision. How she would have dearly loved to dress up and grace the TB Millar Hall for our school musical of 2017, Song Contest: The Almost Eurovision Experience

Other fond memories include being at the school at a time of “driven, focussed growth”; when fellow students apparently thought the caravan on the soccer oval was where her family lived (the Handley family were avid supporters of the fund-raising canteen); being Captain of Choir; being inspired by the “team of people” who taught her including “great English teachers... as obviously I’ve gone into that profession”, particularly acknowledging Dr Glenn Burns’ classes; and of course the perennial collegian favourite, Year 9 Camp, which "at the time didn’t feel like a positive, enduring memory… but is seriously the thing we (collegians) talk about most - despite me knowing I would never camp again." 

As for advice for current students, Kia impresses on them to remember amidst the intensity associated with everyday school life – whether at Radford or beyond - that “Life starts after Year 12… When you’re let free, it’s when you start living”. But she remains warm about the preparation she received for that life while still a student at Radford: “I think compared to other schools that I went to, what I’d say is unique is how well-rounded it is as an entire school. There’s good cocurricular and solid classrooms. It has a rare focus on everything!"

Could any former staff or collegians wishing to input to the new school history and/or claim a profile on the Collegians page, please contact me at: George.Huitker@Radford.act.edu.au 

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