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With Danjiela Hlis

by Sam Regi
image of Danjiela Hlis

In this captivating conversation with Danjiela Hlis, she takes us on a journey through her diverse and fulfilling life. From her early days as a multilingual interpreter and translator in the diplomatic service to her pivotal role in assisting migrants in Australia, Danjiela's passion for communication and helping others shines through. Her path took a transformative turn when she became a caregiver for her aging parents, leading her to delve into the world of aged care and dementia. Alongside her advocacy work, she is also a published author, sharing powerful stories of those living with dementia. Danjiela's zest for life and belief in making a difference continue to guide her as she embraces new passions and follows her intuition.

00:00 / 06:37

Press play to listen to an extract from the conversation with Danjiela.

7/110 Minutes

So my full name is Danjiela Hlis. I am 73. I am born in Slovenia, former Yugoslavia. I studied languages and therefore traveled extensively in European countries where I learned French and Italian and English and Spanish. And then I started working as an interpreter - translator in the diplomatic service.

00:00:40:03 - 00:01:09:11
And from my work in Rome with an African embassy, I was somehow head hunted by the Australian ambassador in Rome at the time, who said that people like me were very needed as interpreters, translators in Australia because there were lots of migrants who were looking for work but couldn't have interviews in English.

00:01:09:13 - 00:01:57:09
And so I came here for a short contract and worked in construction and engineering and doing just that. Interviewing laborers, carpenters, boilermakers, welders, plumbers and getting them jobs on construction companies. And because I like that, I went back to study. So then I am qualified in human resource management and industrial relations and I then went back to Europe, then came back here and basically then worked in that field for a long time.

00:01:57:11 - 00:02:42:15
But always with my emphasis on interpreting and translating and helping migrants who were less fortunate, who didn't have good English. And then my parents migrated to Tasmania, where I was living at the time, into my care, because they could no longer live independently and they needed a carer. So then my whole interest changed and I went back to study to understand more about aged care and dementia and disability in Australia.

00:02:42:17 - 00:03:26:07
And that's where I still am now, even though they've passed. I'm very involved in making a difference, I suppose in the aged care sector again, with emphasis on people who due to dementia or delirium, revert to their mother tongue and loose capacity, not only to socialize with the outside world, but very often to communicate with their own families who are Australian born and they don't speak their mother tongue.

00:03:28:20 - 00:04:05:11
And I'm also a writer. I have published a number of books. My last one, it's on real stories of people living with dementia or those caring for them in Australia. I love swimming, snorkeling. I love being in the ocean with the fish and the corals. And yeah, I strongly believe that life is a gift and we mustn't waste it.

00:04:05:13 - 00:04:09:03
We must really do our best to live it.

image of Danjiela Hlis

Portrait of Danjiela at home.

You've done a lot of interesting things, and you continue to do a lot of interesting things. Could you tell me a little bit more about that (Your passions).

00:04:20:11 - 00:05:00:16
I think, at least for me, passions have changed over years. I have been changing. For example, I would have never thought when I was living in Paris that one day I will be living in an Australian bush, just happy with, you know, my blue jeans and t shirt when I was interested in industrial relations and was representing people.

00:05:00:16 - 00:05:35:21
I never imagined that one day I'll be happy or growing my own tomatoes. But I think I think the important thing is to listen to the voice, the intuition inside us, and and then follow it, not to be too strict and say, Oh, I shouldn't be doing this at my age or this is not good for my position or whatever.

00:05:35:21 - 00:06:17:24
But, but just listen and and do it. So probably because I grew up more or less on my own, it was a complicated childhood, to say the least. But somehow I would say that I was pretty independent already at the age of seven eight, and that was probably not so much a disaster, but a gift, because it prepared me for later.

00:06:19:02 - 00:06:42:15
And because I'm so passionate about this gift that I call my life, that then helps me with whatever happens and to accept it to make the best out of it and yes, to be as much help to others as I can.


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